And the award goes to... What did Dutch consumers choose as 2016's most misleading product?
Over 24,000 people - twice the number of last year - had their say in the survey.
Healthy People’s ‘Blueberry and Raspberry super fruit juice’ came in first place, with Red Bull energy drink and Optimel’s ‘Greek style drinking yoghurt with honey and walnut flavour' taking second and third place respectively.
The winners were up against seven products selected by the watch dog from a pool of 70 original contenders, selected by researchers and experts.
Healthy People’s Blueberry and Raspberry super fruit juice earned an impressive 8,640 votes on account of it containing only 12% blueberry, a meagre 1% raspberry and 87% standard apple juice.
On top of this, the ‘superfruit’ juice contains 11 g more sugar than a can of Coca-Cola, totalling five and a half lumps.
Sjoerd van de Wouw, campaigner for FoodWatch, told us that Healthy People did not respond to questions throughout the campaign, and when presented with the golden trophy refused to open its office door.
Van de Wouw said the Dutch public was outraged by the revelations of the popular product’s ingredients and the company’s reaction: Healthy People reportedly removed all negative comments or questions from its social media pages instead of responding.
A Dutch television documentary following the awards until the attempted prize-giving can be seen here (in Dutch).
The runners up
In second place was Red Bull, whose marketing appeals to athletes and youth by sponsoring extreme sports and stunt events around the world. This was deemed misleading by the Dutch public on account of the highly unhealthy levels of sugar, caffeine and taurine.
This is more likely to result in sleep loss and obesity than enhanced athletic performance said FoodWatch. Red Bull received 26% of the vote.
In third place was Optimel’s ‘Greek style yoghurt drink with honey and walnut flavour’, which contained no honey and no walnut.
No walnut flavouring was listen in the ingredients either.
An Optimel spokesperson told FoodNavigator that it had contacted Foodwatch for advice on how to rename the product but received no response. “We are always looking for ways to improve our products and take every complaint seriously”, it said.
It also claimed that there was in fact non-natural walnut flavouring in the product, which had not been labelled, and would likely alter the packaging.
German watch dog Food Clarity recently drew attention to the issue of ‘alibi labelling’, noting a trend of products using small amounts of one key ingredient but then focussing the labelling and advertising on that ingredient.
Healthy People's juice, which uses minute amounts of raspberry and blueberry in order to name the product after those fruits, is an example of ‘alibi labelling’.
Food Clarity says that this type of misleading labelling is in fact illegal in the EU but the rules are not clear enough; no fixed quantity of an ingredient is required for advertising.