Tuesday, July 23, 2024

What’s Really in Our Food?

July 15, 2009 by Ange  

Thankfully I’d finished my supper before watching last lights BBC1 show What’s Really in Our Food. Anyone fancy a lovely organic salad washed in anti-freeze? How about a tasty chicken that actually contains pork? No, doesn’t sound exactly appetising. There seem to be two main issues. One is that the marketing people are extremely talented at making food sound more authentic and appealing than it really is (I used to work in advertising so I can see both sides of this). And this is from the brands we think we can trust; M&S invented a Scottish loch for their salmon. Now while that may not mean there is anything wrong with the salmon from the mythical lochmuir, I just find it a bit fishy and feel rather deceived…..what else might they have fabricated? The second issue is that the authorities that are meant to be checking our food don’t seem to be as effective as they could be. The Soil Association approved a wash for lettuce as organic on the basis of a list of ingredients; it then turned out that the product contained anti-freeze, which funnily enough isn’t considered organic! That some chicken can contain protein from other animals has been known for years, yet it’s still apparently going on. One of the trading standards officers on the show admitted that food labels might not leave us very well informed. So what can we do if we care about what’s really in our food? Even if the labels on the front of the packet might not been as informative as they could be, it’s definitely worth reading the list of ingredients. I always tell my clients that if they don’t recognise the name of an ingredient, the chances are its not something you want in your food. The Laburnam Cottage Pie created on the show makes a good point; the front of the pack was artfully designed to make it look authentic and British, whereas reading the ingredients list on the back told a slightly different story (it was made with imported meat and meat by-products such as connective tissue). So it is always worth turning over the packet and reading the full list of ingredients. Of course buying from farmers markets or independent health food shops means you can ask pretty direct questions about the provenance and authenticity of your food; just to double check that it contains no anti-freeze or unwanted pig parts.

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