The professor said pills do not work - only high levels of fruit and vegetables in the diet mitigate both the diseases and weight issues. Everyone eating five fruit and vegetable portions a day must be considered as a front line health target by any new administration if only on economic grounds but preferably to minimise human suffering.
The Department of Health is putting considerable cash into the promotion of five a day and schools schemes. The Schools Food Trust is implementing regulatory guidelines. However, the balance of spending at the moment is £500 on convenience snacks (not all unhealthy, of course) for every £1 on five a day.
Growers need to help, particularly with school children - more school visits by us and hosting school visits on our holdings. We need to use five a day logos to support everything we do in PR terms. Where the fruit and vegetables come from does not matter. Yes, we all need to promote our own products, but always link into the basic five a day message. Eating more fruit and vegetables is a benefit to all and of course means market growth for us. Product innovation to increase convenience is a must.
There is a scientific debate about the mystery ingredient that makes fruit and vegetables work. Regulators in Brussels are getting into the integrity of claims made for one product or compound. This is essential work but must not detract from the established position that fruit and vegetables work regardless. One thing, however, is certain. We must avoid mixed messages, often spread by soundbite journalism.
Graham Ward is chief executive at the STC, which is holding a further conference looking at the facts behind the health claims for fruit and vegetables. It will be held on 23 June and is sponsored by the NFU and HTC. For more information, visit www.mactavishwest.com.