Heinz has been fined $2.25 million in penalties for claiming a range of toddler snacks was healthy when they actually contained more than 60 per cent sugar.
Earlier this year the Federal Court found Heinz had deliberately misled the public about the nutritional content of its Little Kids Shredz range through claims on the packaging.
The legal action was launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) following a complaint by the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) about products that are made from mostly fruit juice concentrates and pastes.
And the ACCC is believed to be seeking a further $10 million in penalties.
"The Heinz Group is one of the largest food companies in the world," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
"We will continue to advocate for stronger penalties to deter large companies from engaging in serious contraventions of Australia’s consumer laws (ACL), particularly now that Parliament has passed legislation substantially increasing the maximum penalties for breaches of the ACL."
OPC executive manager Jane Martin welcomed the decision, but said some food companies continue to misrepresent their products as the healthy option for children.
“Food manufacturers should be held to account over the claims they are making to consumers about products for children that are high in sugar,” she said.
The World Health Organization recommends limiting foods containing added sugar, including fruit juice concentrate, to 10 per cent of a person’s daily energy intake, and ideally no more than five per cent (or six teaspoons per day) for the biggest health benefit.
The Obesity Policy Coalition alerted the ACCC to the misleading claims on Heinz Little Kids Shredz because they are concerned about misleading claims being made to Australian parents.
“Clearly labelling ‘added sugar’ on the packaging will help parents cut through the marketing spin when they’re choosing healthy snacks for their children.”
Martin said the OPC also wants to see the Health Star Rating System recognise that sugar sourced from fruit is still sugar, and rate products accordingly.