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Gov’t needs to stop “fraud” with misleading packaging, Consumers’ assoc. says

The government really needs to take serious step to stop the “fraud” that is misleading food packaging, according to consumers’ association Consumentenbond. According to the association, consumers are often misled by the appealing logos, catchphrases and images on the front of packages, while the truth of what is in a product is hidden in tiny print on the back.

As an example, the association mentioned Jumbo’s Italian Pangasius fillet. The front of the packaging clearly reads “Fresh fish -fish market”. But the fish actually comes from Vietnam, was previously frozen and is at least a month old, according to Consumentenbond director Sandra Molenaar. The fact that the fish was defrosted can be found small on the back of the packaging.

Other manufacturers are even further removed from the truth, the association said. Koeckebackers’ packaging claims it has the “healthiest cake” with “all healthy ingredients”. While in reality, the cookies are packed with butter, sugar and white flower. And Almhof’s quark is really partly yogurt, can be seen in the ingredients list on the back.

Consumentenbond has been fighting against misleading food packaging for years. “And with success; once a label is ‘exposed’, manufactures usually adjust it,” Molenaar said. “But it will continue to be mopping with the tap open as long as manufactures keep coming up with new packaging and the government doesn’t intervene.”

The Ministry of Public Health’s “Labeling Action Plan” is too vague and manufacturers aren’t obliged to follow those rules, Molenaar said. “Deception with bait ingredients, sugar claims and improper use of terms like ‘artisan’ and ‘whole grain’ must be seriously countered. And if there is an image of a healthy product, like fruit, on a package, then it must really be in there too. In a set minimum quantity. We really need an ambitious approach now. Preferably European, but the Netherlands can take the lead in this.”

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