M&S cheese cover-up

Store axes PHO­TOS of fatty foods as it tries to en­cour­age us to eat fewer ‘un­healthy’ meals

Scottish Daily Mail - - TERROR ON THE TUBE - By Rosie Tay­lor

IM­AGES of cheese and other ‘un­healthy’ foods have been re­moved from branches of Marks and Spencer in hos­pi­tals to de­ter shop­pers.

Fizzy drinks, half-price bis­cuits and meal-deal pro­mo­tions high in fat and sugar have also been banned in its 28 hos­pi­tal out­lets.

The moves have led to a back­lash from cus­tomers and neg­a­tive feed­back from some NHS trusts and di­eti­cians.

How­ever, the re­tailer has pressed ahead and plans to ap­ply what it ‘learns’ from its hos­pi­tal branches to wider ef­forts to make all prod­ucts health­ier.

It even wants to get rid of sep­a­rate ‘healthy eating’ ranges, in­stead of­fer­ing that op­tion as stan­dard across all the com­pany’s food prod­ucts.

Claire Hughes, head of nu­tri­tion and science at M&S, said: ‘I don’t see us hav­ing healthy ranges in fu­ture – I see healthy be­ing the norm across all our ranges and in­dul­gence will be the thing that’s on the side. We will see things shift.

‘It’s quite early to tell, but I see some of the learn­ings we get from our hos­pi­tal stores as be­ing the fu­ture of re­tail­ing.’

She added that M&S was con­tin­u­ing to re­view recipes to make them health­ier, for ex­am­ple mak­ing sure that all choc ices re­mained un­der 250 calo­ries.

Miss Hughes ad­mit­ted she was in­un­dated with com­plaints when M&S added fi­bre to its white bread and re­moved fizzy drinks from hos­pi­tal stores.

Speak­ing at a pub­lic health con­fer­ence at War­wick Univer­sity this week, she said: ‘In all our white bread – this was ac­tu­ally quite con­tro­ver­sial – we in­creased the fi­bre amount to get to 3g [per 100g] so we could claim “a source of fi­bre”.

‘I’ve never had so many cus­tomer con­tacts about that, say­ing: “Why did you do that?

‘You’ve taken away my choice by putting more fi­bre in my bread.” I was sur­prised.’

She added: ‘In the hos­pi­tal stores I sug­gested we re­moved sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages and fizzy drinks – and we have.

‘We had quite a lot of neg­a­tive feed­back about that, from some of the NHS trusts, from some cus­tomers say­ing we’ve taken away their choice, from some di­eti­cians, which I was quite sur­prised about. But we’ve per­se­vered with it and we’ve kept it.’ Miss Hughes also re­vealed that M&S was con­sid­er­ing cut­ting the size of some prod­ucts to meet gov­ern­ment guide­lines to re­duce sugar and fats by 20 per cent by 2020. M&S has pledged to do this a year early.

She said she knew shop­pers ‘were watch­ing pack size’ but that it ‘has got to be part of the next recipe re­view’.

‘There might be some ar­eas like pies, where we’re never go­ing to have a healthy pie. You can have a health­ier pie – but it might just be a smaller por­tion,’ she added.

The store is also over­haul­ing the way it pack­ages healthy food.

Miss Hughes said: ‘It frustrated me for a long time why prod­ucts that were healthy were al­ways in white pack­ag­ing, they al­ways said on the front, “I’m su­per healthy”, so why would you want to buy that? So it’s about mak­ing healthy foods as­pi­ra­tional and in­spi­ra­tional.’

M&S has faced crit­i­cism in the past for charg­ing sig­nif­i­cantly more for some prod­ucts at its hos­pi­tal branches than on the high street, with Labour MP Paula Sher­riff sug­gest­ing it was ex­ploit­ing a ‘cap­tive au­di­ence’.

How­ever, the re­tailer de­fended the mark-ups, say­ing: ‘Prices can be a lit­tle higher in these lo­ca­tions due to in­creased run­ning costs, such as longer open­ing hours.’

‘A lot of neg­a­tive feed­back’

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