He called Cadbury and Domino’s executives “a bunch of morons” and said the companies’ boards and shareholders “should be ashamed of themselves”.
Just days after a report warned children are being “betrayed” as the UK fails to give them a healthy start to life, Lord Bethell said the companies are “taking the p***”.
He told The Independent: “Creme Egg and Domino’s have sat together and said, ‘what shall we do together?’ and that is what they have come up with.”
Videos of Creme Eggs and recipes inspired by the seasonal chocolate have gone viral on social media platforms including TikTok, generating tens of millions of views.
And Lord Bethell said: “So your great idea, oh genius food brands, is to follow TikTok and produce a recipe with your great brands behind it and use social media to market it to children.
“It is a total abdication of responsibility, you are curators of two of the biggest food brands in the country … and this is where you end up? With the Creme Egg cookie?”
“Have you got nothing better to do with your lives? It is beyond ridiculous, what a bunch of morons,” he added.
Domino’s hit back at the criticism of the product, which is available from Monday, saying the crossover “brings together two much loved, iconic brands”.
“At just over 370 calories per cookie, they are in line with the content of many other treats available on the high street such as frappes and croissants,” a spokesperson said.
“We know our customers love to share our existing cookies, and we expect they will do the same with the new Creme Egg cookies,” they added.
Lord Bethell, who served as a junior health minister during the pandemic, said he is all for companies deciding what food products to make “if they make sensible decisions”.
But the healthy eating campaigner said, “they’re not”.
“We hand these companies the keys to making lots of money by selling food to our kids, and this is what they do with the privilege,” he said.
His comments come after academics highlighted the “appalling decline” of the health of children under the age of five in the UK – with soaring rates of obesity and tooth decay.
A report by the Academy for Medical Sciences found that, in recent years, progress on child health has “stalled”.
Key concerns outlined in the report include:
More than a fifth of children aged five are overweight or obese
Nearly a quarter of five-year-olds in England are affected by tooth decay
Between 2014 and 2017 there was a rise in infant mortality in England – disproportionately affecting the poorest parts of the country. The UK ranks 30th out of 49 OECD countries for infant mortality
A decrease in the proportion of children having vaccinations
A rise in demand for children’s mental health services
Professor Helen Minnis, of the University of Glasgow and co-chair of the report, said: “Child deaths are rising, infant survival lags behind comparable countries, and preventable physical and mental health issues plague our youngest citizens.
“The science is clear – we are betraying our children. Unless the health of babies and young children is urgently prioritised, we condemn many to a life of poorer health and lost potential. The time to act is now.”
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, from the University of Oxford, said: “There are huge challenges for the NHS today, driven by the growing pressures on health and social care from an ageing population.
“Even more disconcerting is the evidence cited in our Academy of Medical Sciences report of an appalling decline in the health of our children, which makes for an even more bleak outlook for their future.
“There is clear evidence in the report that tackling childhood health conditions, addressing inequalities and providing early years social support can change the future of health and prosperity.”