M&S faces criticism for 'misleading' Percy Pigs packaging
Percy Pigs might be a humble animal shaped sweet but the product has already faced its fair share of controversy.
Last year, there was uproar when the recipe changed to remove gelatine and make all the sweets vegetarian.
But now, M&S is facing more criticism over what is included on the packaging.
The front of the packets of Percys include phrases like ‘Made with real fruit juice’, ‘No artificial colours or flavourings’.
On the back, ingredients are listed as glucose syrup, sugar and glucose-fructose syrup, followed by fruit juice, which also contains natural sugar.
At the launch of his National Food Strategy -an independent review across government, covering the whole food chain, from field to fork – restaurateur and report author Henry Dimbleby said that he thinks these phrases are ‘misleading’, as reported by the Guardian.
In the report itself, which has been released today, he said: ‘One of the most egregious sins of the modern food industry is its habit of clothing itself, and its products, in false virtue.
‘“No added sugar” is the boast on Innocent’s lemon and lime-flavoured Juicy Water – quite omitting to mention the eight teaspoons-worth of natural sugars from grapes and pears.
‘“No artificial colours or artificial flavourings” trills the packaging for Percy Pig, the “soft gums made with fruit juice”.
‘These can be found near the tills at Marks & Spencer, within spontaneous reach of tiny hands. How many parents take the time to check the ingredients list?
‘If they did, they might (assuming they know how ingredient lists work) be agog to find that the three largest ingredients by weight are glucose syrup, sugar and
‘I single out Marks & Spencer here, not because it is the biggest sinner, but because it is such a well trusted company.
‘A British institution, M&S has the pledge “we always strive to do the right thing” as one of its guiding principles. If M&S – which is a great deal more scrupulous than many food companies – is guilty of such trickery, you can be sure the practice is ubiquitous.’
Of course, most people realise that sweets contain sugar but the report suggests that adding these phrases makes people think they are somehow better than other choices.
The report then went on to highlight other phrases which suggest that products are healthier but don’t always show the full picture.
It says: ‘Food packaging is increasingly littered with boasts that, if not quite lies, are at least wilfully misleading.
‘“Low fat” often means high starch, but it never says so. The words “free from” and “less” are sprinkled around without context. “Free from” refined sugar, but rigid with fruit sugars? Nutritional values – calories, salt, sugar etc – are given “per portion”, even when a portion bears no resemblance to the quantity on offer.’
An M&S spokesperson said: ‘All our products have clear labelling so that customers can make informed choices about what they buy.
‘All our Percy Pigs are made with natural fruit juices and no artificial colours or flavourings and last year we also introduced a range of Percy Pigs with one third less sugar.’
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