Sustain challenges Bird's Eye's 'good mood food' description of white fish

Health campaigners have challenged Bird's Eye to drop the implication that its fish fingers can contribute to people's 'good mood', despite an advertising industry ruling that the claim can continue.

Health campaigners have challenged Bird's Eye to drop the implication that its fish fingers can contribute to people's 'good mood', despite an advertising industry ruling that the claim can continue.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an adjudication body run by the advertising industry, today rejected Sustain's complaint that Birds Eye misleads its consumers by claming that 'Omega 3 Fish Fingers' are a “good mood food”.

The Food and Mental Health project (coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming) complained about Bird's Eye TV and print adverts that promote 'Omega 3 Fish Fingers', with the tag line: “Good Mood Food”. Sustain and two other complainants criticised the adverts on the grounds that the white fish used to make Birds Eye Fish Fingers does not contain a significant enough amount of healthy omega 3 fat to warrant the product name 'Omega 3 Fish Fingers'. Furthermore, the complainants believe the ad's strap line "Good Mood Food" might mislead parents into thinking that there is a 'magic bullet' to improving mental health and behaviour by buying fish fingers.
 
Food and mental health campaigner Fiona McAllister said: “Even Bird's Eye admits that their fish fingers contain barely enough healthy fish oil to qualify as 'nutritionally significant'. Oily fish is good for brain development, but white fish in fish fingers is not an oily fish. To claim that fish fingers are a “good mood food” is therefore highly exaggerated.”

The government's Food Standards Agency recommends only oily fish as a good source of the healthy fish oil Omega 3. It does not recommend white fish (including pollock, such as used in Bird's Eye's fish fingers) as a good source of this essential nutrient. The FSA recommends white fish only as a low-fat source of protein.

“Food companies such as Bird's Eye appear to be jumping on the 'healthy fish oil' bandwagon,” said Kath Dalmeny, policy director of the food and farming organisation Sustain. “I know of no scientific evidence to suggest that eating fish fingers can improve your mood or mental health.”

Ends
 
For further information please contact Fiona McAllister on 0203 5596 777 (mobile 07984 407097) or email: fiona@sustainweb.org

Notes to editors:

  1. The government's Food Standards Agency states that white fish contain much lower levels of omega-3 than cold water oily fish (http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/nutritionessentials/fishandshellfish/?view=printerfriendly).
  2. Article 7.1 of the CAP code states that “no marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.” 
  3. Sustain's research on the links between diet and mental wellbeing and behaviour can be found in the report published in 2006, entitled 'Changing Diets, Changing Minds: How food affects mental well-being and behaviour' (available at: https://www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=132). 
  4. In January, Sustain and the British Heart Foundation published the report “Protecting Children from Unhealthy Junk Food Marketing”, which criticises the Advertising Standards Authority for failing to stand up to poor marketing practices by the food industry. See: https://www.sustainweb.org/news.php?id=202).

06/02/2008
Food & Mental Health

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Food & Mental Health: The project promotes understanding of the links between good diet and mental wellbeing, addressing the many implications of the growing evidence linking what we eat to the way we feel and behave.

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