Dairy Farmers Oats Express Liquid Breakfast, Banana and Honey was nothing like a blended version of this dish.
Dairy Farmers Oats Express Liquid Breakfast, Banana and Honey was nothing like a blended version of this dish. Photo: Steve Baccon

Sarah Whyte

Misleading free-range eggs, dodgy breakfast energy drinks and unsafe dummies were among the winners - or losers - of the annual Choice Shonky Awards on Tuesday.

Audience members were unsure whether to clap or boo as Choice revealed eight shonky items, including products and services from well-known brands such as Qantas, Kleenex, Energy Australia, the computer game developers EA (who created SimCity) and Dairy Farmers.

"This year's Shonkys show companies doing business in Australia need to lift their game," said Choice chief executive Alan Kirkland. "And, until they do, we will continue to stare down the threats of legal action to name and shame the most outrageous examples we find every year."

The baby dummy manufacturer Nuk was criticised by the consumer group for its unsafe "Starlight Silicone Orthodontic Soother" dummy, which poses serious safety risks for infants. It was the second time the company received a Shonky, after winning an award for the same issue in 2006 - and the first time a company has won a second award for a product.

"This year we had a first 'hall of shame' being welcomed in," Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

"It's a real safety issue, designed to stop the dummy going into the baby's mouth."

The product has now been referred to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Energy Australia was pulled up for its unsatisfactory communication with consumers when the company was increasing its prices, as was Credit Repair Australia, who were charging an upfront fee of $990 to consumers.

Kleenex Mansize tissues suffered shrinkage – Choice discovered their new packaging resulted in a 14 per cent reduction in the number of tissues in a package, despite the company claiming the repackaging would not have any effect.

Qantas airline's use of "big data" also earned it a Shonky, when the consumer group found the airline's monitoring of its customers internet searches offered very little in return. It would take the average user eight years of searching to earn enough points to fly one-way from Sydney to Melbourne.

The creator of computer game Sim City was found to be charging customers $2.48 a minute to use their US-based helpline, while Dairy Farmers Oats Express Liquid Breakfast, Banana and Honey, was found to be missing the honey – it contained oats fibre and banana extract.

Eco Eggs, which label their eggs as "free range" despite having a stocking density of 20,000 chickens per hectare, were similarly named and shamed. The brand charges $6.60 for 10 eggs, rather than 12.

Earlier this month, Choice made its second-ever "super complaint" to the Minister of Fair Trading about misleading claims on what constitutes free-range eggs.

The consumer group found a third of eggs sold as "free range" on supermarket shelves were cramming more than 20,000 hens into a hectare, while best-practice farms only have 1500 in the same space.

The Commissioner of Fair Trading, Rod Stowe, said they were taking the misleading egg claims to the ministerial council meeting this week.

"We'll be publicly responding to that within 90 days," Mr Stowe said. "We're working on that now."