Mums hoodwinked by ‘manipulative’ food manufacturers, say BHF

21/12/2009 - 00:00
Nine out of ten (92%) mums are misled by tactics manufacturers use to market children’s foods loaded with fat, salt and sugar a British Heart Foundation survey has said.

The survey asked parents what they thought about statements such as 'free from artificial colours and preservatives' and 'a source of calcium, iron and six vitamins'. It illustrates how the nation's mums believe they indicate a product is likely to be healthy. The study used wholegrain as an example. 76% of mums believe that 'wholegrain' means the product is likely to be healthy. But Nestle state that Honey Shreddies are 'wholegrain' and can 'keep your heart healthy and maintain a healthy body' yet a 45g average size serving contains more sugar (13.6g) than a ring doughnut (9.2g). Another common term used as an example was no artificial flavourings, no artificial colourings. Nearly three in five (59%) mums believe this indicates the product is likely to be healthy. The Natural Confectionery Company packaging states that Jelly Snakes sweets have 'no artificial flavourings, no artificial colourings' and are 'natural'. Yet the BHF claims they contain more calories gram for gram than black treacle. As part of its Food4Thought campaign the BHF examines how food manufacturers manipulate parents through distracting health-like claims to market breakfast foods and lunchbox snacks. 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." The survey also revealed that eight out of ten (84%) parents supported calls for a single, front of pack food labelling scheme. Natalie Rogers, a mum of two from Stratford-upon-Avon, said: "When I go to the supermarket I'm faced with a barrage of different food labels and it's difficult to tell how bad a product is for my kids. If food companies truly cared about us as customers they would welcome a clear and consistent food labelling system which would help me make healthy food choices. Surely food companies have nothing to fear in clearly revealing what's in their products?"

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