UK Government

Department of Health (National): Do it like Delia

Press Release   •   Oct 08, 2010 12:00 BST

Families should have the choice to buy frozen fruit and veg for a Healthy Start

‘Cheating’ in the kitchen to make healthy dinners is no longer a sin, thanks to top chefs like Delia Smith, who have recently come out of the closet in their use of frozen fruit and vegetables in cooking.

Frozen fruit and vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh produce, that’s why the Government is launching a consultation that will, if agreed, see the Healthy Start scheme let low-income families put their vouchers towards the cost of frozen fruit and vegetables as well as the milk, fresh fruit and vegetables currently allowed.

It means that vulnerable pregnant women and young families with the greatest need will have an added incentive to give their children the best start in life.

Under the proposals, families would benefit from:

• More choice: being able to buy either fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables would mean they can buy whatever most suits their needs.

• More value: frozen fruit and vegetables can compete on cost with fresh fruit and vegetables. 

• More flexibility: where fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t going to be used straight away frozen fruit and vegetables can help reduce overall food waste - you can use as much as you need when you need it and store the rest.

• More ways to meet the 5-A-DAY goal: eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day can significantly reduce deaths from stroke, some cancers and coronary heart disease. So anything that encourages pregnant women and young families to eat more of all kinds of fruit and vegetables can only be a good thing.

Mums and dads can confidently cook with frozen fruit and vegetables because the nutritional value can be at least as good as fresh. In fact, as well as counting towards your 5-A-DAY, frozen fruit and vegetables contain as many, if not more, vitamins than poorly stored or prepared fresh produce.

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said:

“We’re looking at including frozen fruit and vegetables in the Healthy Start scheme.

“Healthy Start helps more than half a million pregnant women and low-income families by giving them vouchers that can be used to buy milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, and also coupons which can be exchanged for free vitamins for women and children.

“Plain frozen fruit and vegetables count towards your 5-A-DAY and can contain as many - if not more – vitamins than poorly stored fresh produce. Frozen goods are often cheaper than fresh and they can last longer, so there’s less food waste too. This would mean that families on Healthy Start have access to a much greater range of produce all year round.

“Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can significantly reduce deaths from stroke, some cancers and coronary heart disease, so it’s important that people have enough.”

Nutritionist, Amanda Ursell, said:

“Families need easy access to healthier food, and a bag of frozen fruit or vegetables from the local corner shop when fresh produce isn't available can be a healthy lifeline to go with any meal.

“Frozen fruit and vegetables give parents far more flexibility so it makes complete sense to include frozen fruit and vegetables in Healthy Start.”

Notes to editors:

1. The consultation can be viewed here: 
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/DH_120045

2. It is a joint consultation between the Department of Health (England), The Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland.

3. You qualify for Healthy Start if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old AND you or your family get:

Income Support, or
Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, or
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit unless your family is receiving Working Tax Credit run-on only*) AND an annual family income of £16,190 or less in 2010/11.

4. You also qualify if you are under 18 and pregnant, even if you don’t get any of the above benefits or tax credits.

5. Working Tax Credit run-on is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the 4 weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week.

Healthy Start also provides coupons which can be exchanged for Healthy Start vitamin tablets for women and Healthy Start children’s vitamins drops locally.

Canned, dried or juiced fruit and vegetables are not included in this consultation because it can be difficult to distinguish between types that contain added salt or sugar.

Extending the scheme could increase the risk that some vouchers are exchanged for products not covered by the scheme, so we’re also looking at whether we’d need to monitor the scheme more closely.

Contacts

NDS Enquiries 
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept 
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk