Newsletter 28 : 3 – 5 A Day – Not So Healthy?

The Department of Health’s ‘5 a Day’ campaign is designed to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg, as part of a healthy diet. Like so many government initiatives, it attempts to achieve its ends by working with corporations, many of whom are also involved in rather unhealthy practises.

The ‘Five a Day’ logo is intended to indicate items that contain at least one portion of fruit or veg; companies can use it on their products for a £100 fee. So far it has been taken up by companies including Burger King, McDonalds and Asda[1]. In schools it is being promoted by ‘Jazzybooks’, an advertising company that specialise in sending schools educational materials that are plastered with advertising, including for supermarkets such as Tesco[2] and unhealthy food makers such as Pepsi, Walkers, and Heinz.[3]

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Department of Health has revealed to Corporate Watch that PR company Munro & Foster have the contract to promote the 5 a day scheme and have received the substantial sum of £334,343 for ‘press office and media monitoring, and the development of PR and marketing activities to support the campaign’.[4] Munro & Foster have a history of doing health industry work – mostly with big pharmaceutical firms such as AsraZeneca.[5] They have also worked to promote the ‘wakefulness’ drug Provigil[6], favoured by the Ministry of Defence to keep soldiers awake[7].

[1] Personal correspondence

[2] Guardian, st June 1997, ‘SCHOOLS: BUSINESS CHIPS AWAY IN CLASS’ (eduation supplement)

[3] The Herald, August 2003, ‘Do schools get better with Coke?’

[4] Personal correspondence