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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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February 2018 (Vol. 28 Issue 11)

Mangoes

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We need to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to stay healthy and well

We need to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to stay healthy and well. Our governments tell us so, after all.
But when our supermarkets say the same thing, they can be prosecuted and fined, at least in the UK they can.
The Asda supermarket chain, owned by American retail giant Wal-Mart, has been fined lb5,000 for claiming that its mangoes have 'anti-oxidant properties to help to fight cancer'. The sign also read that the mangoes are 'a great source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which are good for healthy eyes and skin'. The sign rounded off by stating that the mangoes could be added to smoothies, fruit salad or breakfast cereal, but we assume the government didn't mind that bit.
The claims sound harmless enough. Indeed similar statements can be found on the government's own Food Standards Agency website. But government watchdogs took exception to the claims that food might help fight cancer. They contravene regulations on food labeling that prohibits claims that food prevents, treats or cures a disease, a spokesman explained. They were even going to throw the Cancer Act, 1939 at the supermarket, but calmed down after a relaxing brew of Asda's finest tea (end of sponsor statement).
Six Asda employees stood outside the court with placards that read: 'Healthy Not Guilty', which a government spokesman described as senseless, and we have to agree that they would have benefited from some punctuation.
After coughing up the fine, Asda is seeking to get the laws relaxed about food claims that seem indisputable.
And the government's position? A spokesman for trading standards told the BBC: "Current government recommendations are that everyone should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day to reduce the risks of cancer and coronary heart disease and many other chronic diseases."
So that clears that up.


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