Turkey Twizzlers are making a healthier comeback to the UK this week

Corkscrew strips of meat were discontinued after Jamie Oliver called them bad for children's health

Sarah Young@sarah_j_young
Monday 17 August 2020 08:15
Turkey Twizzlers are making a healthier comeback

Bernard Matthews has confirmed the return of one of its most missed products: the Turkey Twizzler.

On Monday, the food manufacturer announced that the corkscrew strips of meat, which were a staple on school menus in the 1990s and early 2000s, will be returning to supermarket shelves, 15 years after they stopped making them due to a wave of negative publicity.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was instrumental in the demise of Turkey Twizzlers after he called them bad for children's health during a TV campaign for better school dinners in 2005.

Speaking of the product's 34 per cent turkey meat content, Oliver said at the time: “The prospect of what else is in them isn’t particularly good.”

But now Bernard Matthews is relaunching the controversial product with double the turkey meat of the original.

The new, revamped Turkey Twizzlers, have been made using “healthier” recipes with lower fat, salt and sugar, which score orange and green on the traffic-light food labelling system. They also contain 70 per cent turkey meat and no E-numbers.

The company has said it would like the product to return to school menus eventually.

“We have been discussing the return of the Twizzler for some time,” David Leigh, marketing director at Bernard Matthews, told the BBC.

“Obviously we'd like the product to go into schools, but for the minute, we've focused on going into what I guess you'd call mass market retail.”

Turkey Twizzlers are returning to supermarkets this week (Bernard Matthews)

Mr Leigh added that the old Turkey Twizzler had 137 kcal, while the new version contains 87 kcal.

“If you look at our product now and let's say you compared, say, two pork sausages to two Twizzlers, there's 83 per cent more saturated fat in two average pork sausages compared to two Twizzlers,” he said.

“So we have spent a lot of time making sure that we are delivering a healthy, a significantly healthier, product than it was before. It is very much a different product.”

The revamped product is available in two flavours: Original Tangy Tomato and Chilli Cheese (Bernard Matthews)

Mr Leigh added that the remaining 30 per cent was ”mainly a blend of herbs and spices“.

“It is crucial for us that it is a really flavoursome product that people enjoy eating and it complements the high-protein content you normally get in turkey,” he said.

Turkey Twizzlers will be available to buy from Thursday 20 August, and will come in two flavours: Original Tangy Tomato and Chilli Cheese – both found in freezer aisles retailing at £3.00 for a pack of eight.

Bernard Matthews has even erected a three-metre statue of a giant Turkey Twizzler at its head quarters to mark the comeback (PA) 

The company said the return of the product was a response to consumer demand. In 2018, a Change.org petition attracted more than 27,700 signatures from people calling for them to be reintroduced into supermarkets.

To mark the comeback, Bernard Matthews has even erected a three-metre statue of a giant Turkey Twizzler at the company’s headquarters in Great Witchingham Hall, Norwich.

Earlier this week, Bernard Matthews teased the return of the spiralled snack on social media.

The brand shared a video on Facebook and Twitter alongside the caption: “Get ready for the comeback of the century you have all been waiting for!”

In the video the narrator says: “A long time ago, one moment changed everything.

“But now, with the world in need of joy than ever, the time has come.”

The new Turkey Twizzlers will be available across all major retailers, starting with Iceland from 20 August.

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