According to consumer group CHOICE the available vitamin-enhanced water products, produced by such companies as Nutrient Water, Smart Water and Vitamin Water, often contain high levels of sugar and in some cases were branded in a way that suggested they contained ingredients that were non-existent.
A CHOICE spokeswoman Ingrid Just said, “Now we are seeing a flood of these products on the market ... many are making outrageous health claims… In one serving, some of these drinks actually provide about one-third of the recommended daily intake of an average woman… The labelling could lead to people foregoing fruit and veggies for the day instead.”
According to the review the manufacturers were omitting important information. For example omitting the word “flavour” alongside “cranberry grapefruit” implied the product actually contained fruit juice - not just the flavour. CHOICE has called for a review on vitamin-enhanced water product labelling.
Director of Nutrient Water, Luke Marget took offence at the accusations and retaliated, “We think that statement is inaccurate and misleading… Nutrient Water has 25 per cent less sugar than iced tea and more than 50 per cent less sugar than carbolated soft drinks… We’re saying nutrient water offers a healthy alternative to other flavour beverages... We have never marketed or promoted our product as a fruit juice, hence the name Nutrient Water.”
Choice filed a complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is 2008 against Coca-Cola Amatil’s Glaceau Vitamin Water, which was rejected. Since then similar products have hit the shelves. Ms Just said it was time for the ACCC to take another look at the way nutrient-enhanced water drinks are being marketed. “Since 2008 there's been a great flood of similar products on the market, so it’s time to look at the claims that they make,” she said. A spokesman for the ACCC would “neither confirm nor deny whether any investigations are underway.”
Ms Just parted saying, “Treat them like any other sugary or artificial drink; enjoy occasionally, not as a means to any kind of wellbeing whatever the label or pretty pictures might suggest.”