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Consumer NZ releases annual 'awards' for misleading health claims on food products

Consumer advocacy group Consumer New Zealand has this morning released its "Bad Taste Food Awards" list, which highlights misleading health claims made by food products.

The ten "winners" of Consumer NZ's 2020 'Bad Taste Food Awards'. Source: Supplied

The claims include things like labeling a product "97 per cent fat free", while failing to mention it is very high in sugar content.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said "we also found sugary products that carried a raft of other claims, including 'no artificial colours or flavours' or touted their vitamin and mineral content".

Consumer NZ's 10 winners of their 'Bad Taste' Food Awards:

Nestle Milo Protein Clusters: Nestle boasts its cereal contains whole grains, "fibre", "8 vitamins and minerals" and will "give your child sustained, low GI energy to keep them going for longer". But check the small print and you'll find this cereal is also 26.5% sugar.

Uncle Tobys Plus Protein Peach, Sultanas & Oat Clusters: Uncle Tobys' cereal delivers "protein" and "fibre from whole grain to support healthy digestion". It also delivers sugar: 22%. Sugar is the next largest ingredient after wheat and oats. There's extra sweetness from fruit puree, golden syrup and honey.

Nice & Natural Probiotic Oat Bars: These cranberry and coconut bars claim to be the "right way" to "activate your day". They boast they're a "good source of fibre" with "no artificial colours or flavours". The less savoury fact: they're also 22 percent sugar — that's two teaspoons in each bar.

OSM Almond with Vanilla Bites: OSM's bites are promoted as "nutritionally balanced", a source of protein, fibre, 10 vitamins and six minerals. Eat the recommended serve and you'll be getting 30g of sugar too - that's seven teaspoons.

Glaceau Vitamin Water: "Power", "iron" and low calories are on offer in a bottle of dragon fruit-flavoured Glaceau Vitamin Water. But along with the vitamin-enhanced water, there's 22g of sugar: one 500ml single-serve bottle delivers five teaspoons.

Edmonds 97% Fat Free Vanilla Cake: Edmonds boasts its cake mix is "97% fat free" and contains "no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives". But this 97% fat free cake mix is also 55% sugar. That means there's more sugar than flour in the cake.

Woolworths Chocolate Flavoured Creamed Rice: This creamed rice also carries the "97% fat free" claim. It contains "no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives" and even manages a 3.5-star health rating. It may be low fat but it's not low sugar: there's five teaspoons in every serve.

Beehive Shaved Champagne Ham: The front of the pack declares Beehive's ham is "97% fat free" as well as "gluten free", "soy free" and "MSG free". What you won't find on the front is that the ham is also high in sodium: 1200mg per 100g! This information is only in the fine print on the back.

Pams Fruit Zoo Vines: "Wow 65% fruit juice," Pams fruit vines brag. They contain "no artificial colours or flavours" and are "gluten, dairy & nut free!". You may also want to know they're almost 55% sugar. Along with reconstituted fruit juice, the vines contain sugar and glucose syrup, adding to their sweetness.

Lewis Road Creamery Collagen Milk: Lewis Road released its collagen-infused milk this year claiming collagen is "scientifically shown to regenerate joint cartilage". But evidence for collagen supplementation is far from conclusive. What's more, the company's claims weren't approved under the Food Standards Code. Lewis Road dropped the claims when Consumer NZ called it out.