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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Charity food logos 'confuse' consumers
Consumers are unclear about the charity-producer relationship
Charity endorsements on food products do not always guarantee a product's superior quality, according to a new survey.

Food companies use health charity logos because they want to give the impression that their foods are healthier in order to increase sales

Kath Dalmeny, Food Commission

The Food Commission, an independent food watchdog, found that products displaying the names and logos were a "considerable cause for concern."

Many big-name brands now link up with charities, and display the organisations' logos on their food products, but the watchdog said that this relationship was often unclear and could mislead consumers.

The Food Commission's report said consumers may believe that the relationship was an endorsement by the charity of the products' health benefits.

It is also concerned that some consumers may end up paying more than necessary for food, because they believe there are specific health benefits attached to the products.

Tea's benefits

One example cited by the Food Commission was the Tetley Tea's partnership with the British Heart Foundation logo.

The Food Commission, said that while there was scientific evidence that green tea has antioxidant benefits, there was little proof that black tea had health benefits.

The British Heart Foundation said that the link with Tetley was anything other than for fundraising purposes, and was not a product endorsement.

A spokesman said: "We are not endorsing the product. We are joining forces and promoting a campaign for healthier living."

Tetley also disputed the Food Commission's research.

Fiona Reavley, a spokesman for Tetley, told BBC News Online: "It is not an endorsement. It forms part of an ongoing support that Tetley has to raise money on their behalf."

She added: "We are not misleading our customers. All teas are rich in antioxidants"

More expensive?

Researchers at the Food Commission also found evidence that some products with a charity logo were up to ten times more expensive than other products on sale at the same supermarket.

Kath Dalmeny, research officer for the Food Commission, said: "It's all about making a profit. Food companies use health charity logos because they want to give the impressions that their foods are healthier in order to increase sales."

See also:

04 Apr 02 | Business
'Dishonest' food labels exposed
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