Food-labelling skulduggery: Lytham's recipe... - Weight Loss NHS

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Food-labelling skulduggery

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador

Lytham's recipe for proper coleslaw reminded me to have a rant about something I noticed during my recent visit back to the UK.

It seems "food" manufacturers now have even greater liberty to obfuscate the contents of their products, and I suspect a lot of people are buying these things blissfully unaware that they're buying unhealthy rubbish.

- A hotel I stayed at had a selection of rustic-looking yoghurt pots at breakfast, branded Something-or-other Farm with the standard bucolic landscape picture on the front. The ingredients were: sugar, water, glucose syrup, sweetened condensed skimmed milk, butter oil, modified starch, flavouring. In no sense is this yoghurt. It's barely even dairy. Why is it branded as such?

- All dairy products are now low-fat as standard. You might see 'skimmed' or 'low-fat' in tiny, tiny letters somewhere, but you generally have to look at the fat content to find out. I accidentally bought a bottle of Arla-branded milk that turned out to be skimmed, and in one particular supermarket I could find only one yoghurt on the shelf that was (a) actual yoghurt and (b) full-fat. All of the others - dozens of different types - were either completely fake, or low-fat.

- It is now legal to brand low-fat Greek Yoghurt as "real Greek yoghurt". Look guys, if it's low fat, it isn't real Greek yoghurt. I'm not sure what it is - mizithra? - but it isn't Greek yoghurt.

- My mum accidentally bought a pot of coleslaw that turned out to be low fat (although to be fair, in this case, she just didn't read the label). What do they use instead of fat? Sugar, guar gum, and xanthan gum. Delicious. Not.

If you must buy things in pots, read the labels carefully. Or even better, don't support these shysters with your hard-earned cash.

21 Replies
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IndigoBlue61
IndigoBlue61Administrator

I agree totally, I had to hunt thought the shelves to buy yogurt the other day, and don’t get me started on mayo . . . How many different versions of light, lighter, even lighter, invisible?? ITS NOT MAYONNAISSE ☹️😡😩

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to IndigoBlue61

"invisible" LOL.

Exactly ... if it's made with sugar and chemicals instead of oil, it simply isn't mayonnaise, and what irks me is that they're allowed to label it as such (as per Hidden's complaint).

Apparently when margarine was first marketed in the US, it had to be labelled as "butter substitute", or something equally unappetizing. It was actually banned as unfit for human consumption in several places. What a difference 50 years makes. The manufacturers are now allowed to use weaselly names implying that a synthetic fat with artificial food colouring and flavouring is healthier than the natural product.

Hidden
HiddenMaintainer

I am a convert to home made mayo. I have tried making my own cashew nut cheese, which was really rather good.

If the powers that be were really interested in improving our diets then they would stop fiddling about and either ban processed food altogether or insist it was labelled as 'product' and NOT food.

HereWeGoAgain72
HereWeGoAgain72Maintainer

Very true, it's very frustrating. I also hate when products are listed as kcal per 100g only and not per serving size...grr not good for those of us calorie counting who aren't good at maths lol

Trimmerteacher
TrimmerteacherMaintainer

We are lucky to live near Longley Farm and can buy their yogurts which for their bilberry yogurts list only milk, bilberries (9.3%) and unrefined cane sugar as ingredients. They are sold outside of Yorkshire in some farm shops. Buy them - they are delicious!

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Trimmerteacher

Most people probably have a farm shop nearby without realising, because they're often not good at promoting themselves. Sometimes they'll just stick a little sign outside advertising eggs or carrots or whatever, and if you don't happen to be looking in the right direction as you drive past, you'd never notice. Always worth scouting around if you happen to live in a rural area.

Hidden
HiddenMaintainer
in reply to Trimmerteacher

I shall look out for them. If I cant find it I will ask my local health shop to look into stocking it.

Hidden
HiddenMaintainer
in reply to Trimmerteacher

Wow TT. Ive just googled it and the supermarkets beginning with A and M stock Longley Farm yoghurt.

Im not sure if it is the right one.

Trimmerteacher
TrimmerteacherMaintainer
in reply to Hidden

M definitely stocks it near us. Never seen it in A even tho Longley Farm is only five miles away.

Sorry to jump in but our A supermarket has a huge range of these, in fact the biggest selection I've seen, I'm also in Yorkshire

Trimmerteacher
TrimmerteacherMaintainer
in reply to Crazycatgirl83

Unfortunately our local A doesn't stock them.

(Have to say, I am disappointed in A - they used to have a huge range of fresh fruit and veg, all very good value. Since the store refurb, they have much less fresh food, far more ready meals and frozen, and the fresh fruit and veg don't seem such good quality - two packs of peaches this week rotten already, apples on offer, brown inside!)

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Trimmerteacher

I noticed this in other supermarkets - fresh produce, cheeses, and meat used to have a reasonable selection of high-end stuff. It's now much more limited. Presumably nobody buys it, so they just dropped those lines.

Nomash
Nomash2 stone

This made me think of a 'desert' they used to serve in a school I worked. On the menu it said yoghurt for pudding, these came in individual pots. I sat in the staff room eating one of these 'yoghurts' and reading the ingredients. Yoghurt was way down the list of ingredients! First ingredients was sugar! Mine went in the bin, not a choice for the children!

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Nomash

At least it had some yoghurt in it somewhere :)

It's disgraceful that this sort of thing gets served to kids, who grow up believing that this rubbish is actual food, and continue to buy it as adults without knowing it's doing them harm.

BridgeGirl
BridgeGirlAdministrator

I couldn't believe how quick and easy it is to make mayonnaise - I always thought there was something tricky about it and far beyond my skill level :o Not so. And it's so adaptable to incorporate in other dressings

BridgeGirl
BridgeGirlAdministrator

And the biggest laugh (on us) is the likes of Tesco putting fruit and veg under labels such as Suntrail Farms, Rosedene Farms etc. I remember being incredulous when I first saw this fake packaging but I assume they must find it tricks people into thinking there's something extra-wholesome and 'home grown' about them

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to BridgeGirl

ohhh ... I'd forgotten about that one. Yup, what a load of rubbish. They all come from the same anonymous silo. I recall an article about meat in which the author tracked down the supposed "farms" from which sausagemeat had originated, and discovered that they were all being sent from the same meatpacker with different (fictitious) labels on them.

On a completely unrelated topic ... I notice Tesco are running some sort of event to "fight diabetes". They could achieve the desired effect, I suggest, by just clearing 80% of their standard products off the shelves.

Well, TheAwfulToad, if you want to stop governments subsidising the manufacture of junk food, and re-educate people to buy (and the farmers to grow) real food... good luck to you.

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to S11m

Oh, I wouldn't attempt that. However there is a confluence of various factors which are going to give the supermarkets and Big Ag a few headaches in the next decade or two:

a) There's an up-and-coming generation of tech-savvy and business-minded farmers who are prepared to take on the supermarkets on their own terms. They're unlikely to put the supermarkets out of business because the incumbents wield enormous political power, but they will be able to offer better products at lower prices ... once they get their act together.

b) The cost of fossil fuels and fertilizers can only increase. At some point this will make factory farming so reliant on subsidies that a lot of farmers will just give up on it and go over to "the dark side", or exit the business. The resulting scarcity of low-quality, low-cost food commodities will alter the power imbalance that pushes down farm-gate prices. Governments might even decide they can't afford to subsidize junk food anymore, but I'm not banking on that.

c) More and more people are starting to realise what causes metabolic disease, and it isn't "cholesterol". There's going to be a huge backlash at some point, and the peddlers of fake food (and the government agencies who support them with a nudge and a wink) are going to be hauled over the coals. They'll ultimately get away with it, because such people always do, but it will buoy up the market for proper food. For a few years at least.

In other words, the market will sort 'em out, although we might have to wait a while longer for it to happen.

S11m
S11m
in reply to TheAwfulToad

It is remarkable how quickly the Ancel Keys' "Study" resulted in the SAD, WHO & NHS dietary advice and the consequent obesity, diabetes etc. epidemic... but I think it will take much longer to remedy.

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to S11m

Yeah, sometimes bad ideas just seize the public imagination, and take forever to die. Very strange. I guess it'll happen eventually, but in the meantime it's just frustrating (and in a way, comical) watching the health authorities performing their cargo-cult rituals.

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