Zealous trading standards officials in Shropshire and Swindon are taking the Tesco supermarket chain to court after labels were discovered in the fruit and vegetable department that claimed the foods could help prevent cancer.
Trading standards claim the labels flout UK laws that govern health claims for products and foods. The law is clear enough: no claim of health benefits can be made for any food or supplement unless it has been scientifically proven.
The trouble for our trading-standards boys is there is a stack of evidence to suggest that fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent cancer. It’s also part of the government’s health advice to the nation, so it will be interesting to see how the same government can uphold an action that attacks its own policy.
Not that facts trouble the trading-standards folk overmuch. We ourselves have on several occasions fallen foul both of the trading-standards authorities and the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) over claims we’ve made in our leaflets about short-comings in the medical establishment.
We’ve then been asked to supply evidence to support our claims, which we’ve done by the truckload. There’s never a hearing, we don’t know who decides on the case, but every time, we lose without recourse to appeal. We’re then asked to remove the offending paragraphs, and the verdict is posted on the ASA website. Medicine can sleep undisturbed in its collective beds once again.
Personally, I don’t fancy Tesco’s chances.