Consumer NZ has announced this year’s recipients of its Bad Taste Food Awards.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the annual awards highlighted claims food manufacturers used to market their products as better choices.

“Low fat”, “whole grain”, “no refined sugar”, “no artificial colours or flavours” and “natural” were among the claims used to increase products’ appeal.

Ms Chetwin said winners of this year’s awards included foods promoted as healthier choices even though they contained spoonsful of sugar.

Foods promoting their fruit and vege content, when they contained very little of it, and products making meaningless animal welfare claims also featured.

The recipients of this year’s Bad Taste Food Awards are:

Nestle Nesquik: Nestle’s cereal touts it’s “made with whole grain wheat and corn”, is “a source of fibre”, has “no artificial colours or flavours” and contains zinc, calcium, niacin and iron “to help kids’ normal growth and development”. Despite these claims, this cereal is 30 percent sugar, Ms Chetwin said.

Nature Valley Crunchy Oats & Honey snack bars: They’re marketed as an “excellent source of whole grain”, “lactose free”, and “packed with natural whole grain oats and real honey”, making them the “perfect on-the-go snack”. But sugar is the second largest ingredient in these snack bars. “In each serving, there’s 12g – that’s three teaspoons,” Ms Chetwin said.

Simply Squeezed Super Juice Warrior: The label claims this juice is a “good source of vitamin C for immune system support” and has no added colours or flavours. But you’d get more vitamin C from eating an orange and avoid the sugar hit that comes with this super juice. A 250ml glass of the juice has 29.2g of sugar – seven teaspoons.

E2: Marketed as a fruit-flavoured drink “combined with vitamins and minerals to give consumers a delicious fruity blast”, a single-serve 800ml bottle of E2 has 78g of sugar – nearly 20 teaspoons.

Manufacturer Coca-Cola labels this drink as a “supplemented food”, a term used where foods have been modified to provide a benefit beyond meeting basic nutrition needs. “But we fail to see much benefit in consuming almost 20 teaspoons of sugar,” Ms Chetwin said.

Nutri-Grain TO GO Protein Squeezer: Kelloggs’ Nutri-Grain plastic-packaged squeezers are promoted as “perfect for young New Zealanders on the go”, with protein to help them stay fuller for longer. But read the ingredients list and you’ll find sugar near the top. As for the protein, the majority of Kiwis already get ample amounts of it in their diet.

Baby Mum-Mum First Rice Rusks: These rice rusks boast they contain kale, spinach, carrot and cabbage, as well as being “all natural”. Despite the prominent pictures of vege on the front of the pack, the ingredient list reveals these “wholesome, nutritious” rice rusks contain only a light sprinkling of vegetables: 1.36 percent.

Bounce Cacao Mint Protein Energy Ball: The pack claims these energy balls are “nutritious”, “balanced”, “gluten free”, “a wholefood blend of organic cacao, mint and seeds” with “no refined sugar”. But instead of the refined stuff, rice syrup and grape juice have been added for sweetness. Each 42g ball is 22.8 percent sugar.

Fresh ‘n Fruity Berries Galore yoghurt: Despite the super-sized fruit pictured on the pack, sugar is the second largest ingredient (after milk) in four of the six pots in Fresh ‘n Fruity Berries Galore yoghurt. The “berry combo” pots contain just 3.5 percent berries, while the “berries and cherries” pots have 3.5 percent of just the one berry (raspberry) and only one percent cherry. Only the “simply strawberry” pots have more (nine percent).

Tegel, Ingham, Pams “cage free” chicken: “Cage free” claims on your chicken might sound reassuring. But these claims are meaningless and risk misleading shoppers about what they’re buying, Ms Chetwin said. Chickens raised for meat aren’t kept in cages. And cage free doesn’t mean free range – the chooks don’t leave the shed.

You can read Consumer NZ’s full report on the Bad Taste Food Awards at consumer.org.nz and in the December 2018/January 2019 issue of Consumer magazine.