Consumer calls out NZ's most misleading 'health' foods

  • 30/11/2017

Have you ever eaten something you thought was nutritious only to later discover it's actually quite the opposite?

Some of New Zealand's most misleading products have been named and shamed in Consumer's Bad Taste Food Awards for 2017.

The website says the awards "call out manufacturers on the claims they use to make their products seem like better choices".

"However, take a look behind the marketing speak and you'll find the reality is often vastly different."

Here is the full list of the nominees.

Flavoured water

Despite claiming to be "low in sugar" on the bottle, Pump's flavoured water range contains more than four teaspoons per bottle.

"Food standards let manufacturers put this claim on products with 2.5g or less of sugar per 100ml, Consumer says.

"But should it be allowed on a single-serve 750ml drink with more than 4 teaspoons of sugar?

"Our view: no."


"We found a few companies had made an effort to reduce sugar levels in their products since our previous investigation in 2012.

"However, a couple had actually bumped up the sugar content.

"Pams Toasted Muesli was the worst offender, increasing its sugar content by 44 percent ... to 30.3g [per 100 grams]."

Consumer calls out NZ's most misleading 'health' foods
Photo credit: Supplied

Consumer says Countdown's toasted muesli has also "shot up", containing 20 percent more sugar than five years ago.

Mother Earth and Nice & Natural fruit bars

Despite claiming "no artificial colours or flavours", these products do contain a lot of sugar.

The Nice and Natural Fruit Dinos are 60 percent sugar from both fruit juice and regular sugar.

While Mother Earth Vege Fruit Sticks boast "real veggies inside the bar", this is limited to beetroot puree, which makes up just over 10 percent of the bar - equivalent to one teaspoon.

The bars also contain glucose syrup, sugar, golden syrup, invert sugar and brown sugar.

Fonterra's Anchor Protein+ range

Consumer says Kiwis are already getting far too much protein in their diet.

The product is "more than double the price of some of Fonterra's other yoghurt brands", the website says.

Consumer calls out NZ's most misleading 'health' foods
Photo credit: Anchor Dairy

"You'd be better off saving your pennies and sticking with your regular sources of protein."

Fat free marshmallows

Oki-Doki Marshy-Mallows and Betta Mallow Bakes are fat free, but certainly not sugar free.

"Advertising sugar-laden sweets as fat-free is straight from the food marketer's handbook of dodgy tactics," Consumer says.

Lipton Peach Iced Tea

This product contains 26 grams of sugar - which is 6.5 teaspoons in a 500ml serving.

Consumer calls out NZ's most misleading 'health' foods
Photo credit: Lipton

"The main ingredients in this product are water and sugar ... 'tea extract' makes up just 4.5 percent of the drink."

Gourmet salt

Some gourmet salts retail for up to 50 times the price of regular salt.

"All salt - no matter how fancy - is nearly 100% sodium chloride," Consumer says.

"Some manufacturers were all too keen to promote their salts as containing iron, calcium or magnesium.

"The minerals are only present in trace amounts."

After lodging complaints, brand Mrs Rodgers was made to drop health claims and The Healthy Salt Company stopped selling its product at retail stores.

Regulators across the ditch are discussing the third complaint with Australian brand Lotus Foods.

Up & Go breakfast drinks

Sanitarium's Up & Go Energize drink, while claiming "slow release energy" and "10 essential vitamins and minerals", also contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Consumer calls out NZ's most misleading 'health' foods
Photo credit: Sanitarium

A regular 500ml Up & Go isn't much better, Consumer says.

"It also sports a 4.5-star health rating and claims to have the protein, energy and fibre of 4 Weetbix and milk but we've yet to meet anyone who would add more than 9 teaspoons of sugar to their bowl of cereal."