Spanish pasta maker Pastas Gallo has struck back at claims that its Pasta V (for vegetable) adverts are deceiving, motivating children to substitute vegetables for pasta.

Local consumer watchdog Organizacion de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) slammed the product’s marketing messages, saying that they tell mothers they can swap pasta for vegetables, and has criticised its nutritional values for being overstated.

The agency has asked regulators for the ads’ immediate removal.

In a statement, Pastas Gallo said the ads are “completely truthful” and that they intend to foster vegetable consumption, not substitute it.

A Pasta V dish contains 40 grams of vegetables and is more nutritional than pasta alone because it has higher ratios of fibre and iron.

But in one TV spot a mother tells her child’s friend (who was supposed to lunch on vegetables at home) that he can have the vegetables by eating her pasta, gallo’s Pasta V, according to OCU.

“This is a substitution message for eating pasta instead of fresh vegetables,” Antonio Joya, OCU’s communications director, told just-food.“The product is good and healthy but you can’t foster vegetable substitution with a product that’s not made from fresh vegetables, that doesn’t have the same nutritional values.These are processed vegetables, not green bean chunks laced with pasta,” Joya added.

Gallo counters that the product contains “basic” diet ingredients backed by food regulators.The company said it launched Pasta V to help prevent obesity in Spain by marrying vegetable consumption with cereals in pasta.