Food manufacturers have been accused of using school information packs to ‘peddle propaganda’ for unhealthy products. Campaigners have highlighted claims that crisps are healthier than apples, and that children should eat fruit and vegetables ‘in moderation’. A study by the Children’s Food Campaign claims that major food corporations spend as much as £300million a year on school information packs that amount to advertising and misinformation. Experts say junk food has been promoted in the classroom. The report, ‘Through The Back Door’, found that two thirds included misinformation. In one case, Vimto urged teachers in over a 1,000 schools to get their pupils to write a poem praising the sugary drink.
It also reports how the European Snack Association, sponsored by KP, Pringles and Walkers, produced information saying that a bag of crisps is healthier than an apple. The campaigners also attack the British Soft Drinks Association for saying that artificial colours merely ‘restore the colour lost from food during processing’. In reality, the bright colours are used to make the drinks appear fruity. Some have been linked to hyperactivity in children. The study criticises the association for suggesting that sugary food and drink is a carbohydrate on a par with healthy foods such as bread, rice & pasta. The Children’s Food Campaign is calling on the Government to ban companies from using schools to promote their brands and a biased view of food and health. Coordinator Richard Watts said: ‘We were flabbergasted by some of the claims in these packs. Promoting junk food in the classroom in the guise of education is unacceptable. Our investigation shows that the food industry cannot be trusted to provide children with unbiased nutritional information.’ Mail Online 29.12.08