Well-known brands including Up&Go breakfast drinks and Pump flavoured waters are 'winners' in this year's Bad Taste Food Awards.
The Consumer NZ awards, which highlight food companies marketing their products as healthier than they actually are, this year are dominated by products that contain far more sugar than one would expect.
The recipients are Pump flavoured waters, Pams Toasted Muesli, Countdown's Toasted Muesli, Anchor Protein +, Nice & Natural Fruit Snacks, Mother Earth Vege Fruit Sticks, Oki-Doki Marshy-Mallows, Betta Mallow Bakes, Lipton's Ice Tea, Sanitarium Up&Go and certain gourmet salts marketed as containing additional minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said many of the nominated products were full of sugar yet carried claims designed to make them appeal to health-conscious consumers, such as "no artificial sweeteners", "natural" or "fat-free".
A flavoured Pump water, for instance, contains more than four teaspoons of sugar while boasting being "low in sugar". A 500ml serve of UP&Go, which claims to offer "slow release energy" and "10 essential vitamins and minerals" has nine to 10 teaspoons of sugar. Lipton's peach-flavoured ice tea, which is advertised as having no preservatives, artificial colours or artificial sweeteners, has more than six teaspoons of sugar.
"But it's not just sugar that's the issue," Chetwin said. "Food marketers have a variety of tricks up their sleeves to make us think their products are better choices. Our aim is to highlight these claims."
Although laws were designed to prevent companies misleading consumers about the goods they sold, food manufacturers continued to push the boundaries.
Consumer NZ's Bad Taste Food Awards winners
Pump flavoured waters:
Each bottle contains more than four teaspoons of sugar.
Pams Toasted Muesli and Countdown's Toasted Muesli:
The sugar content of these toasted muesli has increased 44 and 20 percent respectively since Consumer NZ's 2012 investigation.
These dairy products claim to give Kiwis the higher levels of protein they need when in fact most people consume more than enough protein already.
Nice & Natural Fruit Snacks and Mother Earth Vege Fruit Sticks:
While claiming "no artificial colours or flavours" they contain is high levels of sugar, in various guises.
Oki-Doki Marshy-Mallows and Betta Mallow Bakes:
Both are labelled as "fat free" but contain more than 50 per cent sugar
Lipton's Ice Tea:
Each 500ml serve contains more than six teaspoons of sugar
Each 500ml serve contains between nine and 10 teaspoons of sugar
Some manufacturers advertise these products as containing iron, calcium or magnesium, but these minerals are only present in trace amounts.