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Fruity food flavourings fleece shoppers

25th February 2008

Much of the flavour in modern food and drink can come from an unexpected source, a survey by The Food Commission has revealed.

There are currently around 2,700 flavourings which can be added to the food we eat, but none of these need to be declared as ingredients, leaving consumers unaware of what they are really eating.

The survey points out that flavourings have no nutritional value of their own. When used instead of real ingredients, flavourings can reduce the nutritional value of our food. For instance, a 'fruit flavour' product can be completely free of real fruit.

Using strawberry flavour products as an example, The Food Commission revealed that many products contain no strawberries at all, or use just tiny amounts of the fruit. For instance:

  • Jordans Frusli All Fruit Strawberry Bars contain only 0.5% strawberry juice concentrate. The bars are actually made from apples.
  • Hartley's Strawberry Jelly with a 'New Fruitier Taste' contains no strawberries at all.
  • Nesquik Strawberry Milkshake Mix is almost 100% pure sugar, but contains no strawberries. Nesquik suggest that children add up to four teaspoons of this sugary mix to every glass of milk they drink.
  • ASDA Great Stuff Strawberry Milkshake has been 'endorsed by ASDA nutritionists' - but contains only 0.6% strawberry juice. Flavourings provide the taste and the colour comes from beetroot.
  • Yoplait Yop Strawberry Yogurt contains no strawberries and uses an artificial colouring, E124 (ponceau 4R).
  • Fruit Bowl School Bars (apple, strawberry and pear) look very fruity, but contain more vegetable oil than strawberry juice (1.5%)

In all of these instances, flavourings provide the taste and the actual strawberry content is either minimal or non-existent.

Ian Tokelove, a spokesperson for The Food Commission, said, "Flavourings allow companies to cut costs at the public's expense. With thousands of cheap flavourings to choose from, many food manufacturers can now flavour their products using these specialist additives instead of real ingredients."

"Describing a product as strawberry flavour and plastering the packet with pictures of strawberries, when that product contains just a tiny percentage of strawberry or even no real fruit at all, is misleading and deceptive. Unfortunately it is also legal and the practice is widespread." Tokelove said.

The Food Commission is calling for all flavourings to be individually identified on food labels. In the meantime, The Food Commission advises shoppers to always check ingredients lists to see what is really in, or missing from, their food.

The Food Commission is an independent watchdog which campaigns for healthier, safer, sustainable food in the UK.

Embargo: 00.01am Monday 25th February 2008

More information

See www.foodcomm.org.uk/latest_flavourings_Feb08.htm for full story and more examples.

For further information contact Ian Tokelove on 020 7837 2250 or ian@foodcomm.org.uk

 

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