Your 5 A Day

Admit it how often do you really get your five a day? Really really? Ok. Well done if you do, I know I can’t honestly say it happens every day but I know 5 years ago it rarely happened weekly and even then it was probably by accident. How many of your five a day come from a packet? That little label 1 of your 5 a day I think attracts most people, even the most shopping savvy feel a little safer with that label staring at you from the package.

A couple of nights ago the Channel 4 programme Dispatches had a real look at what products have “1 of your 5 a day” written on them and really what that actually means. They looked at a number of products packaged with the companies own label denoting that the food inside is suitable for one of your five a day.

I am interested in the 5 a day rule, I try and ensure that Charlie gets his and I have to admit it doesn’t always happen. He starts the day with an apple just about every single day. He LOVES apples and will munch them every day with no issue at all. I tend not to worry about the sugar factor as the rest of the nutrients provided by that apple first thing in the day are great. He’s keen on veg and will eat it with a meal, loves colourful peppers and cucumber are his go to foods. I love that I’ve bred that in to him, he sees more options than junk. He has sweets but really not that much. He’s not allowed dairy products much (dairy intolerant)  so Chocolate is a rare treat and we don’t tend to buy stuff but family provide it lol. We have bought things that have the magic label on them which don’t really resemble fruit or veg but they tell us they are good right?

The programme tackled the problem being faced by food shoppers, while there are guidelines about what counts as a serving of fruit or veg given by the government it’s very easy for food producers to manipulate the use of the logo. There isn’t even a centrally used logo food producers can create there own. The Food Standards Agency issues guidelines to producers and they are expected to follow them, the department who have to ensure this stuff is properly used is over stretched and can’t possibly investigate every single one. One of the programmes investigations was to look at pre packaged food with the 5 a day label and really look at it. One of them was sausages, mash and onion gravy. This counted as one despite a huge salt content, massive sugar content, and considerable numbers of them had massive fat contents. The NHS provides really great information on labels too. They are good aren’t they?

So what actually counts as one of your five a day? The NHS give a great list on their website but the main points are:

  •  Fresh Fruit or Veg
  • Canned Fruit or Veg (no added salt or sugar only in natural juices)
  • Frozen Fruit or Veg
  • Dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs.
  • A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you drink. That’s mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Smoothies. A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit and/or vegetable may count as more than one portion but this depends on how it’s made. Smoothies count as up to a maximum of two portions per day. For more details, see 5 A DAY FAQs.
  • Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That’s because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.

 and portion size is tackled with their very handy PDF file but largely a portion is about the size of your palm.

I tend to feel that in the same way that drinking diet coke with cake balances it out (that is how it works right?) that eating something that considers itself fruit or veg but is wrapped up in masses of salt and sugar doesn’t count as one of my five a day. I like to have it in it’s real form really. If I can have it fresh I will, frozen spinach is usually the extent of my frozen veg, I eat some dried in trail mix. I don’t drink fruit juice, it does nothing for me really and usually is packed with sugar. I know it’s not easy (or cheap) to eat fresh all the time but equally by trusting people trying to sell us a product with the “one of our 5 a day” bandwagon we are letting them con us in to thinking we are healthy when actually our salt levels will kill us anyway.

I was really disappointed to see the government lady in charge of this kind of thing, when faced with the investigation tell the reporter that there is “only so much the government can do” to help make the situation clearer. Well if the government can’t do it who in the hell can?! It’s possibly one of the weakest excuses I have ever seen. Surely designing a central logo and giving food manufacturers strict guidelines to use it or the phrase “one of your five a day” is the simplest solution. When they want to use the logo or phrase they can use it but then have to submit the request to the government with the relevant info. If that information leads to the use being declined they have to redesign their packaging. Big bucks for the manufacturers if they get it wrong, jobs when unemployment is rife too.  I admit it will cost some money but when the health of the nation is, quite frankly, having the piss taken out of it by salesmen peddling a quick solution to healthy then I think it’s about time the government showed some real interest in the nations health. After all we are told every day almost that our eating habits are costing the NHS millions.


What do you think? Do you check the labels of the 5 a day products?

2 thoughts on “Your 5 A Day

  1. I have to admit, I don’t think we have a lot of labels like that in Canada. I don’t buy a lot of processed foods, and any non-fresh fruits/veg are either canned or frozen, but still as close to their natural state as possible. Do I get my 5 a day? Most days I get more. Once in a while it is less, but I figure it balances out.

Leave a Reply