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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Chef sparks microwave meals row
TV dinners
Under the spotlight: TV dinners
A celebrity chef is in hot water with parents after sparking a culinary row by saying that making microwave food for children is an "act of hate".

Instead Raymond Blanc has argued that parents should take the time to cook their children fresh food.

An act of love is when you cook for your children or your family

Raymond Blanc
But a frozen food manufacturer has taken the chef to task on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, saying fresh is not always best.

And the National Family and Parenting Institute (NFPI) says knocking convenience food is unfair on busy parents

However Mr Blanc stood by his comments made during his book launch in Manchester earlier this week.

"Such food is full of additives and colourings and has very little taste and very little nutritional value.

"An act of love is when you cook for your children or your family," he told Today.

Fast food 'myths'

However, he accepted that the modern fast pace of life left little time for parents to spend slaving away in the kitchen.

Raymond Blanc
Raymond Blanc: "England has cheap food culture"
Suzanne Nagle, of Findus food manufacturers, said it was a myth to say convenience foods were poor quality.

Her company produced nutritious food using quality ingredients.

And she said that research had shown that frozen vegetables were in fact more nutritious than fresh ones.

"We have chefs who are as passionate about their food as Raymond is," she said.

However Mr Blanc said: "England has produced a culture of cheap food and is worse than any other place in Europe."

He added that sitting down to eat as a family was a model for society.

"If you are creating a caring family you are more likely to create a caring society.

"Shoving something in the microwave and giving it to the them in front of the television is not very nice," he said.

Balanced diet

A spokesman for the NFPI told BBC News Online that he thought Mr Blanc had gone too far in his comments.

While the organisation encouraged parents to give their children a balanced diet, he said it recognised the pressures on working parents.

"Time is scarce to spend with family and children.

"Not everybody has the time or inclination to spend long periods on preparing food. Microwave food has its place.

"Parents can spend their time doing what they want to do, like talking to their children or spending time with their family," he said.

See also:

21 May 01 | Health
Children 'breakfast on junk food'
09 Feb 01 | Health
Toddlers getting fatter
05 Jan 01 | Health
Childhood obesity soars in UK
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