Prepacked fruit lacking in vitamins - report

June 9, 2004, An investigation into prepacked fruit and vegetables stocked in UK supermarkets found that many had vitamin C levels far below normal for unprepared produce.

The report, published by the UK-based Consumer’s Association in May 31 issue of Which?, notes that British fruit and vegetable supply comes principally from supermarkets who often place more emphasis on looks than taste.

Asda sliced runner beans, for example, contained just 11 percent of the textbook level of vitamin C, and Marks & Spencer's fresh mango contained just 42 percent.

Malcolm Coles, editor of Which?, said: “Supermarkets should give shoppers more information about where their food comes from, how it's been prepared and how nutritious it is.” The report offers further evidence that the British public may not be getting adequate vitamin intake through their daily diets. It claims that nutrition is not a priority for many supermarkets, pointing to research that found vitamin C levels in some pre-sliced and packaged supermarket fruit and vegetables were far below normal levels for unprepared produce.

The UK's food authority says that adults need 40mg of vitamin C daily although some research suggests that higher amounts can offer important protection against disease such as cancers.

But vitamin levels in fresh fruit decrease after they are picked, and particularly after they have been cut and exposed to air or sunlight. Much of the peeling and chopping of ready-prepared produce is now done abroad and the food then undergoes a long journey before reaching British supermarket shelves.

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