Chris McCormack

Farmers furious over banana ad

THE LOCAL banana industry is furious over a new Wrigley’s television advertisement they say denigrates the health and nutritional benefits of bananas.

They’re now calling on the public to support them in a boycott of the confectionary company’s products until the dispute is settled.

In the latest advertisement for Wrigley’s chewing gum, a banana appears alongside other foods and beverages such as a doughnut, popcorn and coffee that are suggested to lead to a build-up of plaque on teeth.

Australia Bananas marketing manager, David Chenu, said the industry is outraged Wrigley’s are being so irresponsible.

“The advertisement says two things about bananas. One is that bananas have the similar nutritional value to foods like doughnuts and popcorn which is absurd,” he said.

“The second is it implies there is some caution in eating bananas on your oral health, which is rubbish. No health professional worth their salt would consider moderating anyone’s consumption of bananas – they’re a fantastic food, which is why they’re Australia’s most popular fruit.”

Mr Chenu has taken his complaints to the Advertising Standards Board.

“If Wrigley’s want to criticise oral hygiene, they should be promoting sticky, sugary products – like doughnuts – not picking on a fresh fruit.”

Ongoing talks with Wrigley’s have failed to reach a solution and Mr Chenu said there’s no backing down from the banana industry.

“They’ve given me no guarantee that the banana will be removed from the ad.”

The industry’s 800 farmers have now begun boycotting all products from the confectioner and are asking family and friends to follow suit.

“I think Wrigley’s have underestimated the concern of the industry,” Mr Chenu said.

Eating bananas will not cause tooth decay, according to industry experts.

Dr David Topping, a senior scientist at the CSIRO, said he was not familiar with any population studies that supported bananas being a concern for oral health.

“The evidence is that bananas are an excellent source of resistant starch which doesn’t begin to digest until the lower intestine,” Dr Topping said.

“In fact, resistant starch is low in the Australian diet and is something we work on getting increased consumption of.”

Derek Lewis, who sits on the oral health committee of the Australian Dental Association, was reported as saying that unless someone ate large quantities of bananas and failed to rinse their mouth, ‘no one is going to decay their teeth by eating bananas’.

“Why didn’t they put a glass of fizzy cola in the ad?” he asked.

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