The huge figure put on the cost of gluten-free prescriptions has been found incorrect, after a dispute broke out yesterday.

The Daily Mail published an article yesterday, claiming “£116 million of gluten-free junk food was handed out in prescriptions in the past year”, when the figure for all gluten-free food dispensed was actually just £26.8m.

The paper has since changed this to read “food for special diets” after the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said £116m included the total net ingredient costs of all special diet preparation, including supplements for fats, proteins, carbohydrates and baby formulae.

The HSCIC said: “We would like to clarify that the net ingredient cost (NIC) of "gluten-free junk food" - a term not recognised within Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) -  of prescriptions dispensed in the community in England in 2014 did not equate to £116m.

“The total NIC of gluten-free preparations was £26.8m in 2014, while the NIC of preparations that were both gluten-free and low protein was £28.2m.

“The £116m figure actually represents total NIC for all special diet preparations dispensed in 2014. This includes other foods for special diet preparations, including nutritional supplements for fats, proteins, carbohydrates and baby formulae. These are preparations that have been modified to eliminate a particular constituent or are nutrient mixtures formulated as food substitutes for patients who either cannot tolerate or cannot metabolise certain common constituents of food.”