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BBC 5 Live Investigation - Supermarkets misleading shoppers on healthy food

24 February 2019

A BBC 5 Live investigation has found that products high in salt and saturated fat are being placed in sections of supermarkets marked 'healthier choices' and 'healthy and diet meals'.

To view the results of the investigation, please click here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-47311097

Mhairi Brown, Nutritionist for Action on Salt, said: "Although many products have front of pack nutrition labelling, which highlights levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat, checking every label and comparing products to find a healthier option is very time consuming. Placing products in ‘healthier choice’ sections of supermarkets should ideally highlight products that are actually better for our health. However, we’ve found that many of the vegetarian and vegan products in these sections of the supermarket can be high in salt, with some vegetarian burgers containing more salt than real beef burgers, meaning shoppers are being given a false sense of security.

"Public awareness and concern of salt levels in food has been gradually falling since 2010, but given the strong link between salt and conditions such a high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease we all have a part to play in reducing the amount of salt in our diet. The food industry are ultimately responsible though – they must commit to reducing salt across their product ranges and supermarkets should have stronger criteria in place for products allowed to be displayed in their ‘healthier choice’ sections." 

A British Dietetic Association (BDA) spokesperson said supermarkets have a 'duty of care' to customers: "It is unhelpful and confusing to the consumer, and supermarkets should avoid doing this. They should be promoting and educating people to buy foods that actually are healthy - not just marketed as being so."

The Royal Society for Public Health said: "Supermarkets should be transparent about how they classify foods, and provide clear information about products. There must be incentives and penalties for presenting clear and accurate information. Perhaps there is potential to have an independent supermarket regulator. It is important that the good work done so far on labelling is not undermined."

Listen again to BBC 5 Live Investigates to hear our nutritionist Mhairi discuss the results: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0002nv2

 

 

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