Food scams and the filthy lies you are still being told about your food

Friday 15th February 2013 

  • Here’s why the jingle of the cash till is putting you at risk in recent food scams
  • Shouldn’t you expect the truth from  what’s on your fork?
  • Twenty years of misleading dietary advice laid bare – low fat spreads could kill you.

Jokes aside, this farce about horse meat is no longer a laughing matter its yet another food scam to hit the news.

I have been watching the whole sorry story unfold across Europe, wondering how the big food manufacturers and retailers were going to cover up the truth.

That point of view may not surprise you coming from me – but I am convinced that they were all aware that the beef they were buying wasn’t the real deal.

The problem is that they don’t care as long as the tills ring.

This pitiful pursuit of money has laid bare the lengths that they will go to...

...and just how little respect any of us should have for them.

Let me take you on a journey of a frozen lasagne that ends its life in a supermarket near you.

The animal (beef or horse) is reared and slaughtered in Romania, traded by a series of brokers in The Netherlands and Turkey, and sent to a processing factory in Luxembourg before being shipped to a factory in France.

It is then mixed with ‘permitted’ flavourings and ‘bulking agents’, cooked and layered into containers for flash freezing.

(By the way these ‘bulking agents’ include things like a protein derived from chicken feathers.)

Then it’s loaded into lorries and transported across Europe to a packaging plant in Eire before being delivered to a central warehouse just north of London.

From here it will be delivered to your shop shelf.

Just stop to think about that journey from farm to plate...

...consider how many people have been involved in the chain of transactions, all of whom will be making their percentage on the deal...

...look at the direct costs associated with transporting the animals and products around the globe.

Now tell me how a good quality meal can be made available at £1.29?(1)

More importantly, can anyone explain why the food buyers for the supermarkets don’t do the same mathematics that I have done and work out that they are buying rubbish?

They HAVE to be aware of all of this – I simply don’t buy the cop out that it is a problem in the supply chain.

A matter of health and honesty

The PR and political machines have burst into life to tell us that there is no health risk from eating horse meat.

But it isn’t actually the point.

The issue is who should we trust to tell us the truth about our food?

Time and time again we get told that our health and well-being is the top priority, usually when a new scam and scandal breaks.

Once again the same tired phrases are put out in the media about improved testing, proper documentation and political focus.

If any of this was worth a jot we wouldn’t keep having the problems occur.

The real essence of this revolves around the fact that we no longer have any control over what we eat.

Our lives are becoming dominated by significant commercial interests that have us dancing like puppets on their strings.

None of this will change until we have local food, available in season and cooked properly.

When I raise this I often get criticised that I’m living in a dream world, which the modern household couldn't? cope with.

Just go back one generation though and that is exactly what we had.

All of this stack ‘em high, sell it cheap and bang it in the microwave convenience has only occurred in the last 20 years.

The alarming rate of food related horror stories shares the same timeline – and that can’t be a coincidence.

My new book will address all of these issues and make the perfect partner with Season to Taste to help anyone select the best foods, and cook them without fuss.

So maybe I am living in a dream – but I’m not eating anything that I don’t know about on a regular basis.

The hidden dangers of commercial dieting

Of course the pernicious grip that commercial organisations hold over our food also extends to their posturing about eating healthily.

Funny that few of the fad diets or miracle slimming products are based around purely natural foods – there is always a twist to them.

The over-hyping of the obesity problem is commonly linked to the promotion of low fat spreads or a quick fix diet programme.

So we all know that eating ‘I can’t believe it’s not fat’ spreads is so much better for us – right? Eer maybe not as it happens!

Research published recently in the British Medical Journal(2) found that there was no evidence for using low fat spreads compared instead of butter.

This means that all of the guff we have been subjected to about using margarine and vegetable oil is without foundation.

More worrying was the finding that by replacing animal fats with polyunsaturated fatty acids (the main constituent of low fat spreads), the risk of developing heart disease increased.

Likewise I have always harboured concerns about the sort of diet advice that has you only eating one type of food (step forward the cabbage diet or Mr Atkins for example).

So I was happy to read an article in the Daily Express earlier this month which showed that dieticians and doctors agree with me.

They concluded that we should eat healthily rather than specifically to lose weight and that means eating a well balanced diet with appropriate levels of fats, carbohydrates and proteins to allow our bodies to work efficiently.

But there is nothing wrong in choosing purely natural products to help our bodies burn the extra calories we have accumulated.

Now that is a subject I’m going to return to on Sunday... if you want to turn your body into a fat burning furnace, make sure you read all about the power of the lemon in a few days time.

Yours, as always

(1)The average price of a 360g pack of Findus Lasagne. Source accessed 11/2/13 09:37
 (2)Ramsden et al. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 5 February 2013)







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