Whitehall accused of culinary prejudice over coconut ban

First there was the alleged conspiracy orchestrated in Brussels against bendy bananas and wonky cucumbers. Now, not to be outdone, Whitehall has embarked on a campaign of culinary prejudice of its own with a decision to persecute starchy yams and fatty coconuts.

The two vegetables, both staples in the Caribbean diet, have been excluded from the Government's "five-a-day" healthy eating campaign for fresh fruit and vegetables along with the cassava.

Hazel Blears, the Public Health minister, said the foodstuffs, often added to meat dishes, stews and soups, should not feature on the list of approved foods used as a guide to parents and school cooks.

Campaigners condemned the decision as racist, pointing out that while the trio, which are widely used in West Indian and African cuisine, were excluded, British crops such as carrots and turnips remained.

Milena Buyum, of the National Assembly Against Racism, said: "These are vegetables that people in the Afro-Caribbean community eat on a daily basis. The Government is ignoring an essential part of society."

Chris Grayling, the Conservative health spokesman, condemned the policy as "bananas".

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