Low-income families now have the choice to buy frozen fruit and vegetables as part of the Healthy Start scheme, health secretary Andrew Lansley has announced.
The scheme supports over half a million pregnant women and low-income families by giving them vouchers that until now could only be spent on fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.
Andrew Lansley said: ‘Feeding a family on a limited budget can be a challenge. The addition of frozen fruit and vegetables is a boost to the Healthy Start scheme to help low-income families eat more healthily.
‘Plain frozen fruit and vegetables count towards your 5-a-day. Frozen goods are often cheaper than fresh and they can last longer, so there is less food waste, too.
‘Pregnant women and parents with young families on low incomes will now have access to both fresh and frozen produce all year round to give their children the best start in life with an added incentive to achieve their five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.’
A UK consultation on adding frozen fruit and vegetables to Healthy Start took place last year and 90% of respondents were in favour of adding frozen fruit and vegetables to the scheme.
Low-income families on Healthy Start will now be able to use their vouchers on products such as frozen peas, spinach, carrots or frozen berries.
Frozen products with added fat oil, salt, sugar or other ingredients such as oven chips or ready meals are excluded.
Retailers and shops play a very important role in encouraging this public health scheme with around 30,000 retailers currently accepting Healthy Start vouchers.
British Retail Consortium food director, Andrew Opie, said: ‘Including frozen fruit and vegetables will give more people better access to nutritious fruit and vegetables. Frozen produce has all the nutritional benefits of fresh.
‘There’s no reason why it should be left out. Including frozen will also help customers manage food and reduce food waste in the home.’