A disturbing study by the Cancer Council shows
that the health claims on the labels of more than a third
of supermarket products are misleading.
The study found that labels such as “made with real fruit” or “contains three serves of vegetables” are disguising sugar and salt levels.
“We’re seeing a lot of manufacturers that are promoting the fruit content of their products, yet they’re quite highly processed products, some of them can also be high in sugar, very low in fibre and certainly no match for the real thing,” Clare Hughes from the Cancer Council said.
The Cancer Council put 762 products under the microscope and found nearly half of the products were making a fruit and vegetable claim. A third of those were actually unhealthy foods.
“I see a lot of people who are time poor and they’re in the supermarket buying these products that say ‘Made with Fresh Fruit’, ‘Made with Vegetables’ and they think they’re doing the right thing,” Janneke Williamson from mothernourish.com said.
Ninety per cent of Australians do not eat enough vegetables and half do not eat enough fruit according to the recommended dietary intake.
Health officials say it is time the government got tough with food manufacturers.
“They need to come up with new laws when it comes to labelling food to make sure that people know what they’re buying when they’re in the supermarket trying to buy something healthy,” Janneke Williamson from mothernourish.com said.
But according to nutrition experts, there are simple ways consumers can ensure they know what they are buying.
“Really there’s nothing like fresh fruit and veg, or even frozen,” Pacific Magazines Food Director Barbara Northwood said.
“Even some canned versions with low salt, there’s nothing wrong with them at all and they’re so much cheaper [than] fresh fruit and veges,” she said.
Ms Williamson agrees, highlighting the importance of getting back to basics.
“Get back in the kitchen, have some fun with it and cook real food again. It’s just takes a bit effort,” she said.