Misleading Food Labels (again 2)

How do they get away with it? Here is another example of a misleading food label, this time by Heinz (although bought in Tesco). Original Salad Cream

I like mayonnaise, but not the mass produced gloop we find in supermarkets and especially not the low-fat (or worse, super low fat ‘light’) versions to be seen on the shelves. However, like most of us I do have to be careful about the amount of fat I eat as it really isn’t good for my health. So, as I don’t dislike salad cream, I often choose to use my childhood favourite instead of Mayo. Some people get quite snobby about salad cream but I’m prepared to accept the ridicule. I prefer it to mass-produced Mayo!

Fat is an essential ingredient in our diet, but not one we can afford to overdo as Mayonnaise contains over 80% fat! If you think that the ingredients are mustard powder, salt and pepper, vinegar, egg yolks (fatty) and Oil – you can see how this comes about. I also worry about what else manufacturers put into products like this, especially those that can be made at home. How on earth do they make ‘low-fat’ Mayonnaise? surely that’s a contradiction in terms.

So before I continue my rant, let’s investigate the fat content of low fat (sic) Mayonnaises. All the products on this page range between 3.6g and 5.6g of fat per 15g portion. On the same page, we see one product that has 1g of fat per 15g portion. However this one does bear the following summary:

With it’s eerie, blancmange-like appearance and complete lack of flavour our panel were shocked to discover this had come from the big name player: Hellmann’s. Some were left wondering “What’s the point?”

So, proper mayonnaise contains over 80% fat and the pretend, chemically enhanced, (Low fatmayonnaise products contain starches, cellulose gel, or other ingredients to simulate the texture of real mayonnaise) stuff ranges between 25% and 30% – yet (here it comes) Heinz choose to advertise their product as 66% LESS FAT, which in fact turns out to be exactly the same fat content (see alongside) as low fat Mayonnaise.

Wouldn’t it be fairer and less misleading if they said ‘has the same fat content as low-fat Mayonnaise’ – or – ‘more flavour with no extra fat’ – or – anything that doesn’t require the punter to have a degree in Maths.

The site I’ve linked to above makes the same mistake (legally) of stating a portion size with resulting nutritional content, so to find out what the percentage is you have to do some working out.

I much prefer the ‘per 100g’ version of nutritional awareness (see alongside), because anything you then read is a percentage: e.g. 26% fat in Salad Cream and most low-fat Mayos. That way, I can make my own choice of portion size. The manufacturers’ portion size is always arbitrary. How many of us can recognise the size of a 15g portion? It’s actually about a Tablespoon full – but it that heaped? or level? How would you know?

See also:





Misleading food labels (again)

The Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert has said this week that Tesco’s (and Morrison’s) have agreed to bring to an end the confusion caused by misleading food labels.

Hurray!! (but said with caution).

Herbert said, in a recent statement that the supermarkets will from now on (well, who really knows when) inform customers of exactly where the product (meat) originates. Instead of ‘produced in the UK’ on labels, we can now expect to see ‘meat originates in X, Y or Z’.  At the moment, European rules say that meat (except beef, which has different and more stringent rules) does not have to display the country of origin. It can advertise itself as British if indeed Britain is the last place that ‘substantial change’ occurred. This is a scary enough statement in itself but is easy enough to explain when you realise that meat reared in (say) Turkey is sent to (say) Belgium, where it is frozen – before being shipped to Britain where it is defrosted, cooked (when I say cooked I perhaps mean mass-produced as part of a chemically denatured and additively enhanced process of protein alteration by heat) and packed before again being chilled or frozen for shipment to any of the huge supermarkets around the country (or the world). At this point, the Turkish bred and Belgian frozen meat (lets say it’s chicken) can be termed ‘British’ as that is where the last substantial change occurred.  MMMmmm British Sunday Roast – loverly!!

So well-done Tesco and Morrison’s – let’s see the others follow suit.

But wait a minute chaps … (see previous post) it isn’t just the labelling of meat that concerns us – it’s misleading labelling full stop. The recent Tory statement is just another example of smoke and mirrors (by the party and by the supermarkets) – we still need a better and less confusing system of food labelling. Will our elected representatives help? Perhaps if we make enough noise!

Here’s an example of what happens when we become complacent.