One of Wigan’s biggest employers has been caught up in a row over British customers being sold the wrong type of baked beans.
Consumer champion Which? magazine took budget chain B&M Bargains to task for filling its shelves with cans of Heinz Beanz which have far higher salt levels in them than are normally sold in the UK.
The discount store had not been buying in the product made at Kitt Green’s gigantic Heinz plant, which turns out a million tins of food a day and serves all of Britain’s other stores, but instead importing crates of Heinz Beanz made at a factory in Dubai, presumably because they could get them cheaper.
These beans, which are slightly differently labelled but could easily be mistaken for the regular tins, were destined for the South African market.
After receiving a tip-off from a Which? member, the magazine investigated and found that the B&M tins contained more than twice the level of salt now found in a typical UK supermarket can: 1.2g per 110g, compared with 0.6g.
A Which? spokesman said: “The imported beans were stocked side by side with UK-produced beans - making it very easy for a customer to grab one that’s twice as salty as the other.
“It isn’t illegal to import food that’s made to a different recipe.
“But salt content must be labelled and only sodium content was listed on these beans, so we passed our findings on to trading standards.”
Which? issued several tips on how to spot the difference between the two tins:
The imported cans don’t have a 1 of your 5 a day badge on them;
The list of ingredients on the UK cans indicate that the product comprises 34 per cent tomatoes while the imported ones contain three per cent tomato paste;
The UK salt content is 0.6g per 100g of baked beans whereas the Dubai-manufactured product contains 1.2g;
The back of the tin should inform the customer where the food was produced: and in British customers’ cases, this should usually read England;
There is a slightly different font on the imported bean cans;
The UK beans contain 329 calories per 100g and the imported ones 381g.
Over recent years Heinz has reduced both the salt and sugar content in its beans in response to calls for Britons to eat healthier. Salt is linked to high blood pressure and sugar to obesity.
Which? said that B&M had told them that it no longer stocks the imported beans.