A SUPERMARKET chain is today under pressure to ditch a Saltire-inspired logo over claims that it is misleading customers.
German budget retailer Lidl, which has stores in Granton and Dalry, has been promoting products including fat and sugar-laden caramel shortcake slices with a heart-shaped design that incorporates the St Andrew’s Cross.
The logo is almost identical to the one used by Healthier Scotland – the Scottish Government programme which aims to improve health particularly in poorer areas – leading to fears that some customers could be under the impression that calorific treats have been given the official seal of approval.
The Government said that while its logo was always accompanied by the words “Healthier Scotland – Scottish Government”, it was “crucial that consumers are not mislead”.
The controversy follows the publication of an extensive health survey in Lothian, which revealed soaring obesity levels and a widening health gap between the richest and poorest in society.
Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said it was a “perverse irony” that a heart was being used to promote a product which could lead to coronary problems.
“It’s very misleading and it’s naughty,” she said. “If they’re using the Saltire, they should do so responsibly. Someone who has a heart condition could think they’re good for the heart. This is morally wrong.”
Four caramel shortcake slices, which contain 1209 calories and 71 grammes of fat, cost just 99p. Poor diet, particularly in low-income areas, has been partially blamed for health inequalities which are an increasing issue across Scotland.
Lyndsey McLellan, a Senior Food and Health Development Worker with Edinburgh Community Food, said that supermarkets could often “clearly aim to mislead” with marketing material.
She added: “We aim to educate people to wade through all the misleading graphics and messages and pick out information that is based on science. We know this isn’t always easy and hope that food manufactures and supermarkets would help to make the information easier to understand.”
A spokeswoman for Lidl said that since its introduction in June 2010, the heart logo was used “primarily to highlight products of Scottish origin” and had been well-received by customers.
She added: “Although the concept of the design holds similarities to that of the Healthier Scotland logo, there are marked differences between the two, such as the angle, shading, outline as well as a white circle around the logo.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Last month, we announced the details of the new voluntary UK front of pack labelling scheme we are recommending in Scotland. All leading retailers, including Lidl, have signed up.
“As well as this, through our framework for voluntary action, we are inviting the food industry, including Lidl, to explore what we can be done in partnership to support healthy choices for customers.”