Sausages and chips That's one of your five a day, says food firm amid claims mantra has been 'hijacked'



06:35 GMT, 16 July 2012

The five-a-day mantra has been ‘hijacked’ by the food industry to promote meals such as sausages and chips, a minister has admitted.

Anne Milton said the Government was powerless to prevent firms claiming products were healthy, even when packed with sugar, salt and fat.

For years the public has been advised to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to help prevent cancer, heart disease and maintain a healthy diet.

Healthy A Kershaw's breakfast with 'Five a Day' logo

Healthy A Kershaw's breakfast with 'Five a Day' logo

But a loophole in the law allows firms to imply that ready meals, tins of spaghetti hoops and sugary drinks are all healthy – because they contain one portion of fruit and veg.

Under Government guidelines, manufacturers can use the ‘five-a-day’ logo as long as their products contain 80g of fruit and vegetables – including chopped tomatoes or frozen peas.

They should not display it on products that contain added salt, fat and sugar, however. But these guidelines are voluntary and many firms ignore them.

Items brandishing these labels include Kershaws sausages and chips, a frozen ready meal that contains 18g of fat, and Kershaws ‘All Day Breakfast’.

McDonald’s also uses the logo on its Fruitzz children’s drink which contains 49g of sugar and 200 calories.

Public health minister Miss Milton told Channel 4’s Dispatches, to be shown tonight: ‘I think at the moment consumers are quite confused. I think we’re always up against a bit of a battle with industry, who often hijack popular messages that Government use to give out information.

‘Which is why we’re working on voluntary ways to get the food industry to be more responsible about what it does.’ She added: ‘There’s a limit to what we as a Government can do.’

Simon Capewell, professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, said the logos used by firms were unregulated.

‘It’s complete open season out there. So the consequence is that consumers, even quite intelligent ones, are vulnerable to being misled, they’re very open to confusion,’ he added.