Healthy Halo to Unhealthy Products
Moneylife Digital Team 30 January 2018
The European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, has launched a new campaign denouncing the European Community’s (EC’s) ‘long-standing failure’ to ‘stop the bogus claims of food companies while selling products that are high in sugar, fat or salt.” According to BEUC, the EC was supposed to publish nutrient profiles that would establish maximum thresholds nine years ago, a move to stop ‘unhealthy foods’ making ‘bogus claims’. The BEUC has said that “in the context of an obesity epidemic, it is essential that consumers are not offered foods that look healthier than they are.” Among the worst offenders are powdered beverages and products aimed at children which carry very high levels of sugar.
A BEUC spokesperson has been quoted as saying: “As our real-life examples show, it is common for consumers to see food products loaded with sugar, salt or fat with claims ‘high in fibres’, ‘B vitamins’ or ‘boosts your immune system’. A hot drink made up of 75% sugar should not be able to boast about calcium and vitamins.At the moment, these claims are being used as a marketing tool by manufacturers rather than a useful indicator of a healthy product to consumers.” BEUC has launched a social media campaign to flag specific products such as Nestlé’s Nesquick.
“Parents want the healthiest for their little ones. They would hardly imagine that baby cereals claiming to contain iron, zinc, and vitamins would be made up of nearly 30% of sugar. On top of misleading consumers, those marketing messages are eye-catching whereas sugar levels only appear on the 
back of the pack, in small characters,” a BEUC spokesperson has alleged.
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