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Bernard Matthews will look to get turkey twizzlers back on school menus

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:08 18 August 2020

Bernard Matthews unveil a three-metre high statue of a Turkey Twizzler at Great Witchingham Hall in Norfolk as it makes a comeback after 15 years, Reign (aged 3) views the new statue. Picture: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

Bernard Matthews unveil a three-metre high statue of a Turkey Twizzler at Great Witchingham Hall in Norfolk as it makes a comeback after 15 years, Reign (aged 3) views the new statue. Picture: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

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Turkey twizzlers were once a lunch time staple for hundreds of thousands of British schoolchildren.

Turkey Twizzlers are back with two flavours to choose from and a healthier recipe Picture: Supplied by Nexus PRTurkey Twizzlers are back with two flavours to choose from and a healthier recipe Picture: Supplied by Nexus PR

However following a notorious campaign by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver the products were removed from the public school menu and supermarket shelves alike.

But 15 years on – and with a golden statue to mark its rebirth – the turkey twizzler is back with a vengeance.

Though the clash over school dinners took over the nation it was on Norfolk’s doorstep that the fallout was felt.

Little Witchingham’s Bernard Matthews was the producer of the ‘PR disaster’ product which dealt a blow to revenue and reputation alike.

Bernard Matthews factory.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYBernard Matthews factory. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

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However following a buyout in 2016 by Boparan Private Office, the investment company headed by 2 Sisters Food Group entrepreneur Ranjit Singh Boparan, the company has recommissioned the former twizzler machines.

However where the product previously inspired Mr Oliver’s wrath due to a 34pc meat content, the twizzlers now have 70pc meat.

Jamie Oliver launched a successful campaign to ban turkey twizzlers. Picture: Paul StuartJamie Oliver launched a successful campaign to ban turkey twizzlers. Picture: Paul Stuart

At 87kcal it is also almost half that of the previous iteration.

Bosses at the company have also confirmed that the remaining 30pc of ingredients in the two flavours – chilli cheese and tangy tomato – are herbs and spices.

But after the product was branded “horrible” on national television is it a risk too far?

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said “we don’t see this as a risk”.

“This is a significantly different product and we’ve worked really hard to create something that we’re confident in and will stand up to scrutiny; we don’t see this as a risk – it’s an opportunity for Bernard Matthews to grow awareness of turkey meat in the UK,” they said. 
The spokesman added: “We have spent a lot of time making sure that we are delivering a significantly healthier product than it was before. It is very much a different product and our aim is that they can be enjoyed as a healthier meal option and as part of a balanced meal. If you look at our product now and let’s say you compared, for example two pork sausages to two Twizzlers, there’s 83% more saturated fat in two average pork sausages compared to two twizzlers.”

Bernard Matthews also said the launch of this product is not only pivotal for the business but also the wider market. 
“A significant capital expenditure has been involved in getting the product back to market,” the spokesman said.

“We see turkey twizzlers as an important part of the business again but also for the category – it’s showing you can eat turkey year round (not just for Christmas). Turkey is a healthy meat and it’s important we play a role in showing consumers that.”

On the topic of twizzlers being reintroduced to school lunches the businesses was cautiously optimistic. 
“At the moment we’re focussed on getting the products into supermarkets – we hope that as people enjoy them more and more, we can look to get them back on school menus,” the spokesman said.

But given the apparently healthier content is it a boon for families looking for a budget-friendly meat product?

Sejal Jacob is a consultant dietician based in Norwich’s Newmarket Road, who said: “It is always welcomed by public for manufacturers to make healthier food products available at accessible price.

“It is important to note that even the healthy meat products on the supermarket shelves contain saturated fats and calories . Hence, having that in moderation is important. It is always advisable of being mindful of intake of processed foods high in fats, sugar and salt as it is imperative to reducing significant health risks.”
Turkey twizzlers will be available to buy from Thursday.


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