15 Oct 2016

Frozen yoghurt 'not yoghurt' - judge

7:29 am on 15 October 2016

Two frozen-yoghurt companies have been fined for misleading people about how healthy their products were.

Commerce Commission

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

An Auckland District Court judge has found that Yoghurt Story New Zealand and Frozen Yoghurt Limited made cynical claims about their products' ability to boost the immune system and lower the risk of heart disease.

The products were in fact more like ice-cream than yoghurt, and 15 out of 17 samples failed tests, Judge David Sharp said.

The Commerce Commission said companies must be able to provide research to support health claims.

The judge said that what the stores were selling was not yoghurt as defined by the Australia New Zealand Food Standard, was not probiotic yoghurt as was claimed, and did not have the health benefits the companies claimed it had.

"The defendants' conduct was a cynical attempt to take advantage of consumers' desire to make healthier food choices. The defendants themselves considered the product to be more akin to an ice cream product, yet they decided to call their stores 'Yoghurt Story' because it was more attractive to consumers than calling it 'Ice Cream Story'," he said.

"The product simply was not yoghurt," he said.

The two companies would have been fined a total of $270,000, but that was cut to $35,000 each because both are in liquidation. However, Ten Yoghurt Story stores were still trading.