Swedish veg ‘lacks nutrition’

Fruit and vegetables in Swedish stores may look like they are bursting with nutrition, but tests by a national newspaper claims to show that greens sold by the five largest supermarket chains are often lacking in both taste and goodness.

Svenska Dagbladet tested the quality of the fruit and vegetables by examining whether they met the nutritional requirements demanded of fruit juices, measured on the so-called Brix scale. The results of the test were then compared with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s standards.

However, the paper’s methods have been criticised by Sweden’s national food standards agency.

Of the 120 different types of fruit and vegetable tested by the newspaper, 64 were classed as having ‘poor’ levels of vital nutrients, 56 were ‘adequate’, and none were classed as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. Of the 33 tomatoes tested, 28 contained so much water that they were not good enough to make juice from.

The same was true of 18 out of 24 carrots. Only half of oranges or apples were good enough to make acceptable fruit juice, according to Svenska Dagbladet.

There are no juice standards for cucumbers or peppers, but measuring them against the general norm for fruit and vegetables showed that none of the cucumbers and only one in three peppers were adequate.

The paper also tested produce from the Östermalmshallen market hall in Stockholm, but the greens on sale there were barely more nutritious.

But according to Annica Sohlström at the National Food Administration, the test gives a misleading picture of the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables.

“The Brix scale measures the relationship between sugar and water, and it is a measurement used by juice, wine and sugar producers. But it does not follow that less sweet fruit and vegetables contain fewer nutrients. The sugar content does create differences in taste,” Sohlström said.

She added that the vitamin and mineral content of apples, for instance, can vary depending on the type of apple, the time it was harvested and the kind of soil the apple tree was planted in. There can be big differences in the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables within the same batch.

Sohlström also insisted that her agency’s will continue to advise consumers to eat plent of fruit and vegetables.

“You should eat the fruits or vegetables that you think taste best,” she said.