Some strawberry-flavoured food and drinks contain barely a trace of the fruit, a report out today says.
The Food Commission found some strawberry-flavoured products had tiny amounts of strawberries – or none at all.
Nesquik strawberry milkshake mix was criticised by the campaign group for being strawberry-free and made almost entirely of sugar.
Asda Great Stuff strawberry milkshake’s taste comes from flavourings and its colouring from beetroot, the Food Commission said.
Hartley’s strawberry jelly contained no strawberries at all.
Yoplait yop strawberry yoghurt also had zero strawberry content and used the colouring E124, the commission said.
Jordans Frusli All Fruit strawberry bars were found to contain only 0.5% strawberry juice concentrate.
Commission spokesman Ian Tokelove 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.’
Which? is campaigning to ensure parents get clear information about products that contain high levels of salt, sugar or fat to help them to make healthy choices for their children when shopping.
Which? food campaigner Miranda Watson said:’Our advice is to watch out for foods that say “flavour” on the label as these don’t have to contain real fruit. If you want to make sure you’re getting fruit, check the ingredients list.’
Responding to the commission’s survey, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drink Federation which represents UK food manufacturers said: ‘All ingredients used in food or drink products, including flavourings, must be labelled by law.
‘Manufacturers make a wide range of foods to suit consumers’ varying tastes and pockets. In response to consumer demand, companies are increasingly using natural flavours.’
Nestle said the ingredients in Nesquik were clearly labelled on the pack.
‘In a normal serving of 15 gram of Nesquik with 200ml of semi-skimmed milk, half the sugar comes from the milk itself,’ the firm said in a statement.
Nestle said it was changing the ingredients of Nesquik strawberry-flavoured Magic Straws, which the Food Commission criticised for using the colouring cochineal red A.
‘In line with our long-term reformulation programme, we are currently working on a move to use a natural colour in Strawberry Nesquik Magic Straws,’ Nestle said.
A Hartley’s spokesman said: ‘As in any kitchen, we sometimes add flavours to bring out the taste and aroma of food.
‘Hartley’s Strawberry Flavour Jelly and Strawberry Flavour Angel Delight are both made without artificial flavours; the pack fronts do not feature pictures of fruit and the products are clearly described as ‘fruit flavour’.’
The Asda strawberry milkshake is made with 0.6% strawberry juice concentrate.
A spokeswoman for the supermarket said: ‘Whilst the Great Stuff milkshake does not contain whole strawberries, the product does contain natural strawberry juices.’
Jordans said its All Fruit strawberry bar was made from 100% fruit and got its flavour from concentrated strawberry juice.
‘Having already identified that the name of the product could be interpreted as being misleading to consumers, Jordans All Fruit strawberry bar is currently undergoing a packaging change which will make the apple content of the product more apparent,’ a Jordans Cereals spokeswoman said.