Albert Heijn accused of misleading customers

Foodwatch, a consumer watchdog organisation for the food industry, has accused supermarket chain Albert Heijn of misleading consumers about the contents of its organic and sustainable-branded products.

The organisation says that the supermarket’s puur&eerlijk (pure and honest) brand gives people the idea that Albert Heijn is concerned with health, while in fact these products contain a lot of unnecessary sugars, salt and flavour enhancers.

A spokesman for foodwatch said, "They are absolutely not - as Albert Heijn's own website suggests - produced, grown or purchased with extra care for people, animals, nature and the environment."

"They actually contain flavour enhancers, E-numbers and inhumanly farmed meat or milk."

Natural or manmade?

Puur&eerlijk, a private label by Albert Heijn and one of many commercial responses to the growing popularity of sustainable food in the Netherlands, is put on products that are fall into one or more of the categories of organic, fair trade, sustainable fish, free range or ecological.

That, according to foodwatch, is exactly the problem. While the main ingredient may be organically or sustainably produced, the rest often contains colourants and flavourings.

"Take the jalapeño burger. The main ingredient is free-range meat, but there are 20 other ingredients have been added, such as sugar and a flavor enhancing yeast extract. Also, it’s only 80 per cent meat, while the rest has been sprayed with water. I do not call it pure and honest," said the spokesman.

Social media campaign

The consumer watchdog launched a social media campaign against Albert Heijn this week, calling on people to tell the supermarket chain to reflect on their responsibilities.

They say they want to make people aware of the deception around the label, adding that it would be ideal if the supermarket only put this claim on products that were really pure and honest.

For Albert Heijn’s part, they have stated that they found foodwatch’s allegations to be inaccurate and unjustified. A spokesman said, "Albert Heijn has deliberately chosen an umbrella brand because, due to the large number of categories, consumers could not see the forest for the trees."

Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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