Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Sandwich rules leave a bad taste

A cheese sandwich
Critics claim a cheese and tomato sandwich falls foul of the guidelines

Sandwich makers have criticised guidelines on what can be sold in hospital vending machines in Wales.

The British Sandwich Association (BSA) claims cheese and tomato sandwiches on wholemeal bread are barred, while "reformed" ham on white bread is fine.

The association says the guidance is based on inappropriate advice aimed at advertising children's food products.

But the Welsh Assembly Government says it aims to promote healthy eating and the examples are taken out of context.

Jim Winship, director of the BSA, said a premium bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with malted wheat grain bread fails the rules.

However, a standard tuna mayonnaise and sweetcorn on white bread meets the requirement.

He also argued that vending machines in hospitals were rarely used by patients.

"Most vending machines in hospital are there to serve the staff and people visiting patients," he said.

Vending machine
It means a nurse coming off a 12-hour shift can't get a chocolate fix and have a Kit Kat
Janette Gledhill, Automatic Vending Association

"Furthermore many of the staff using the facilities are doing tough jobs late at night when their only option is vended food. Their nutritional needs are very different to those of patients."

The Food Standards Agency has developed a nutritional "model" which gives guidance for broadcast regulator Ofcom on the types of food that can be advertised aimed at children.

A spokesperson for the FSA said it was consulted by the assembly government but advised against using that model.

'In a pickle'

"While we support measures to encourage people to improve their diet, this guidance needs to be looked at again," said Mr Winship.

Janette Gledhill of the Automatic Vending Association said: "It means a nurse coming off a 12-hour shift can't get a chocolate fix and have a Kit Kat."

The Conservative health spokesman in the Welsh assembly, Andrew RT Davies said: "It is important people have the right information about healthy eating and healthy lifestyles - but in this case the assembly government appears to have got itself in a bit of a pickle."

"The government's role is to provide people with the right advice, not prescribe what they can and cannot do. "

A spokesman for the assembly government said the examples were taken out of context, and the guidelines aimed to reduce saturated fat, salt and sugar in food and drink hospital vending machines.

"Cheese is generally high in saturated fat and salt," he said.

"If the manufacturers were to slightly amend their cheese and tomato sandwich to have a lower fat cheese option and add more salad, it will fulfil the guidelines and therefore be acceptable.

"This should not create too much work for the manufacturers to achieve our nutritional standards."

The British Sandwich Association is based in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, and represents the 5.25bn sandwich industry across the UK.

Call to ban junk food from NHS
10 Oct 08 |  Health
Hospital to limit unhealthy food
27 Mar 08 |  Derbyshire

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