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NZ: Ribena health claims exposed

Two schoolgirls have shown that food and pharmaceutical giant Ribena used misleading labelling and misleading advertising. Their school science experiment found that some Ribena fruit drinks have only a small amount of vitamin C. The company’s ads claim that blackcurrants have four times the amount of vitamin C than oranges. The drinks also have a lot of sugar.

The Commerce Commission says that thousands of New Zealanders have been misled by the claim that Ribena contained high levels of vitamin C.

The company has been fined and will place advertisements in the major papers admitting its labelling and TV ads were misleading.

This case highlights the problems with health and nutrition claims on food packaging, and shows the need for clear food labelling, such as a traffic light system.

Making claims: Ribena case a warning to industry

Law firm Bell Gully says that the prosecution of GlaxoSmithKline for making misleading vitamin C content claims underscores the need for food manufacturers to be careful of their claims.

They background the Ribena case and show how it breached the Fair Trading Act. They also outline the new Australian food descriptor guidelines on what constitutes misleading representations in food labelling and packaging. These were developed with the help of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the New Zealand Commerce Commission.

Read more: Bell Gully resources, 3 Apr 2007


Ribena sales turn sour after vitamin C revelation

Read more: NZ Herald, 2 Apr 2007

Editorial: Schoolgirls shamed the watchdogs

The Ribena case demonstrates the “gaping hole in our food labelling and advertising laws.”

Read more: NZ Herald, 1 Apr 2007

Drink deficient only in Australasia, says GSK

Makers of Ribena say there is only a problem in Australia and NZ and that the problem came about because bottles were left on shop shelves too long. This suggestion was dismissed by nutritionists.

Read more: NZ Herald, 31 Mar 2007

Editorial: Sour taste of Ribena deception

The Ribena case ranks as one of the worst instances of misleading advertising.

Read more: NZ Herald, 28 Mar 2007

Ribena case tip of the iceberg?

“The Ribena case highlights researchers’ concerns that health claims about foods may give rise to misleading impressions, says marketing professor Janet Hoek.” She adds that “the Ribena case highlights the need for clear food labeling such as a traffic lights system, where consumers do not need to interpret complex nutrition information before making a purchase decision.”

Read more: Press release, Massey University, 28 Mar 2007

Ribena Vitamin C claims false and misleading

“Commerce Commission Chair Paula Rebstock says that thousands of New Zealanders have been misled by the claim that Ribena contained high levels of vitamin C.

“Health claims are big business in today’s market, and the Commission has targeted bogus health claims in recent years. It is very disappointing to see a major pharmaceutical and health products company like GlaxoSmithKline mislead the public in this way.”

Read more: Press release, Commerce Commission, 27 March 2007

Published on March 28, 2007 in New Zealand news