Geoffrey Podger, head of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), has slammed food manufacturers who add vitamins to foods high in fat, sugar or salt in order to justify marketing them as “healthy” foods.

Podger told the BBC : “We should recognise there are foods that are naughty but nice […] No harm in eating them, but to start making health claims because you have added ingredients to them will just confuse the situation, and make it more difficult for all of us to balance our diets.”

The EFSA will have input into new EU regulations on labelling which are currently being drafted.

Meanwhile the consumer magazine Which? has criticised the current labelling of additives as too confusing. It called for a simplified labelling systems for additives to enable shoppers more easily to avoid additives and to compare the contents of different products.

Martin Paterson, deputy director general of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents food manufacturers in the UK, said that additives were already subject to strict safety controls. He added that keeping the labelling simple helped keep the length of an ingredients list on a small label short, which was beneficial to consumers.