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Turkey Twizzlers to return 15 years after chef Jamie Oliver targeted them in campaign

Written by on 17/08/2020

The Turkey Twizzler is making a return – 15 years after TV chef Jamie Oliver was instrumental in their demise when he called them bad for children’s health.

Manufacturer Bernard Matthews is relaunching the product, claiming it has developed a recipe which is “healthier and tastier than ever before”.

In 2005, Turkey Twizzlers were banned from school menus and discontinued during a wave of negative publicity following the programme, Jamie’s School Dinners, which triggered a national debate about the quality of food for children.

But despite concerns the product “remains ultra-processed”, Bernard Matthews claims it has been “missed” by families and is “much-improved”, containing 67%-70% turkey meat.

Jamie Oliver
Image: TV chef Jamie Oliver was instrumental in their demise in 2005. File pic

When it was last available on school menus, it contained 34% turkey along with a range of additives and flavourings.

At the time, Mr Oliver said: “The prospect of what else is in them isn’t particularly good.”

The company’s marketing director David Leigh said the old Turkey Twizzler had 137 kcal, while the new version had 87 kcal.

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The firm celebrated the return of the corkscrew meat strips by unveiling a three-metre-high statue of a Twizzler at its headquarters in Norwich.

An online petition in 2018 calling for the return of the Turkey Twizzlers attracted nearly 28,000 signatures.

Nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker said: “Turkey Twizzlers have listened to the public and completely transformed themselves into a much-improved product.

“They now have a nutritional profile they can be confident in. High in good quality protein and lower in fat, saturates, salt and sugar.”

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But campaigners for healthy food remain unconvinced by the quality of the product.

Barbara Crowther of the Children’s Food Campaign told The Guardian: “The fact it’s taken Bernard Matthews 15 years to reformulate the Turkey Twizzler shows what a truly terrible product it used to be.

Turkey Twizzlers are making a return 15 years after being discontinued
Image: Turkey Twizzlers will return to the shops 15 years after being discontinued

“Doubling the turkey content still only takes it to 67-70% meat content, and while it’s a healthier version of its former self, it remains an ultra-processed product.”

Bernard Matthews said Turkey Twizzlers will be available in two flavours, Original Tangy Tomato and Chilli Cheese, at Iceland stores from Thursday.

 Sky News

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