Healthy living

Parents being 'misled' by food labels

Zone default image Foods high in salt, sugar and fat seen as healthy

Food manufacturers are using "smoke and mirror tactics" to mislead parents into thinking foods containing high amounts of sugar, salt and fat are healthy, a charity claims.

A survey carried out by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that 92% of mothers thought statements on food packs such as "free from artificial colours and preservatives" and "a source of calcium, iron and six vitamins" indicated the food was likely to be healthy.

And a mere 8% of mothers rejected all the claims.

Peter Hollins, chief executive of the BHF, said: "Mums are having the wool pulled over their eyes by food manufacturers.

"Smoke and mirror tactics means that foods targeted at children and high in fat, salt and sugar are being disguised with partial health claims suggesting they’re a healthy choice. Regularly eating these types of foods could have serious implications for kids’ future health."

Nestle state that Honey Shreddies are "wholegrain" and can "keep your heart healthy and maintain a healthy body", but a 45g average size serving contains 13.6g more sugar than a ring doughnut, which contains 9.2g.

Coco Pops, which use the line "a source of calcium, iron and six vitamins" on their cereal and milk bars, are higher in saturated fat and sugar per 100g weight than the average chocolate cake.

The BHF wants to see more food manufacturers using the traffic light labelling system on food packaging.

Mr. Hollins said: “Partial health claims and the mish mash of food labelling systems serve only to confuse shoppers about the nutritional value of what they’re putting in their shopping baskets.

"It’s time for food companies to stop making excuses, support one system and ensure shoppers are given ‘at a glance’ information about the foods they’re giving their kids."

This article was published on Mon 21 December 2009

Image © Monkey Business -

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