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Slimming foods are slow to shape up

19th January 1998

Leading food companies, including Heinz and Boots, are continuing to market slimming products with soon-to-be illegal weight loss claims and nutritional inadequacies, says a new report from the Food Commission published today in The Food Magazine.

Three months after Food Minister Jeff Rooker called for slimming food companies to 'sharpen up their act' and ensure they comply with forthcoming legislation as soon as possible, the Food Commission has found that all seven leading meal replacement products surveyed would fail to satisfy the nutritional and labelling requirements coming into force in early 1999.

The Food Commission survey of meal replacement drink mixes and biscuits found:

  • Crunch and Slim meal replacement bars provide 44% of their calories from fat - far more than the 30% that will be permitted.
  • Both NutraSlim and Thigh & Hip Slim have fewer than the 200 kcals per serving that the legislation will require.
  • Crunch & Slim, Slim-Fast ready-to-drink and Complan all contain too little protein.
  • Three of the seven products fail to provide adequate levels of vitamins and minerals.
  • Although sugar is not covered by the new rules, all products are high in sugar (up to 61% of calories).
  • Six of the products make claims about the speed or amount of weight loss that can be achieved. The new rules forbid such claims, including testimonies, on packs or in advertisements.

'Manufacturers have been aware of the need to change their formulations and marketing for several years, since the original EC Directive was drafted', said the survey's author Sue Dibb. 'Yet they appear content to leave it to the last minute, while offering nutritionally inadequate products that potentially mislead slimmers.