Freshfel Europe has called into question the new European Union Healthy Eating Campaign for school children, running alongside the School Fruit Scheme and School Milk Scheme, describing it as "simplistic" and "ill-coordinated".
The fresh fruit and vegetable association said in a statement that it found the message of the campaign inaccurate, and said that it felt resources were not necessarily being spent correctly.
According to Freshfel, the campaign to promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables and milk as constituting a healthy diet should have been kept separate and not united under one banner, given the differences of the two schemes. Additionally, Freshfel sad that focusing on just two categories gives the wrong impression of what constitutes a balanced diet.
"Information on a balanced diet is more complex than just milk and fruit and vegetables," said Raquel Izquierdo de Santiago, Freshfel's food policy advisor. "Addressing schools talking only about these two categories together is not appropriate nor comprehensive from a a nutrition perspective."
Additionally, Freshfel expressed concerns over the launch of the campaign at a time when there is still "much work" to be done on ensuring that the School Fruit Scheme functions correctly.
"We are really disappointed that a dedicated pan-European website for fruit and vegetables is not yet in place to accompany the scheme," said Freshfel general delegate Philippe Binard. "We are still hoping that a networking meeting among officials, member states and stakeholders, set up by the Commission by the end of the year for a first review of the situation, exchange of best practice and possibly to motivate those who have not yet embarked on a programme to prepare projects for the next school term 2010-11."
Meanwhile, Freshfel has stressed the importance of a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle in conjunction with World Heart Day, which took place on 27 September.
"Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals; they are low in calories and rich in dietary fibre," said Ramon Rey, president of Freshfel. "A diet high in fresh produce is scientifically proven to prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce your risk of heart disease. Besides, eating more fruit and vegetables may help you eat less of those foods that should be limited, such as high-fat, high-salt foods."