'Healthy' food not so healthy thanks to loophole
Health food ... or is it? Photo: Quentin Jones
Food manufacturers are using a loophole in trademark law to dupe consumers into thinking products high in fat or sugar are healthy, a study has found.
Consumer advocacy group CHOICE found almost half of the 200 products with natural or healthy sounding names it reviewed had high levels of either saturated fat, total fat, sugars or sodium.
"Manufacturers are trade marking healthy words such as 'natural', 'healthy' and 'fresh' to give the impression that a product is healthier than it seems," CHOICE spokeswoman Ingrid Just said in a statement on Wednesday.
Such misleading claims cannot be used to promote foods which are not healthy or fresh, but manufacturers can circumvent regulations by making bogus health claims in trademarked brand names, Ms Just said.
"Trademark law prohibits the registration of a trademark likely to deceive or cause confusion, but nutritional analysis is not part of the approval of new trade marks," she said.
Ms Just warned consumers to be wary when choosing products with healthy sounding brand names.
"Just because a product's brand name suggests that its healthy or natural doesn't necessarily mean its good for them (consumers) or the environment."
And it's not just health concerns food manufacturers are exploiting.
Eco-friendly brand names are also used to hoodwink customers into paying a premium for products with purported environmental benefits, Ms Just said.
She recommended people assess the health values of products by reading the list of ingredients looking at the nutrition information panel.
People must also look through marketing gimmicks and be especially vigilant with products plastered with terms like 'natural, healthy and fresh', Ms Just said.