Big business hides dangerous food in our shops

Friday 28 February, 2015  

  • Devious practice by those we trust is putting lives at risk

  • Here’s the case for real food, rather than dangerous food

  • Revealed the harsh truth of corruption that goes right to the top


We are being conned by the food industry.

It’s a drum I keep banging in the hope that somewhere, somehow it will make a difference.

But those who make billions of pounds each year from providing us with our daily sustenance just aren’t playing fair, and they control the media...or so I thought.

In last Saturday's Guardian magazine I was heartened to read that I’m not alone in my quest to have simple, honest and unadulterated food back in our shops.

One of their journalists, Joanna Blythman, went undercover in the food industry and discovered that even something as simple as a fruit salad has been messed around with to help bring a greater return to those who sell it.

You can read her full article here but one thing that really caught my eye was a brief translation of what the food label says, and what it really means, for example:

Added vitamins One-dimensional factory versions of natural vitamins found in whole foods: ascorbic acid (man-made vitamin C) is usually synthesised from the fermentation of GM corn, while artificial vitamin E is commonly derived from petrol.

Soluble fibre A healthier-sounding term for modified starch, which is widely used to reduce the quantity of more nutritious ingredients in processed foods, and keep down manufacturers’ costs.

‘Packaged in a protective atmosphere’ Food that has been “gassed” in modified air to extend its shelf life. It delays what food manufacturers call “warmed over flavour”, an off-taste that occurs in factory food.

Beef/pork/poultry protein Collagen extracted from butchered carcasses, processed into a powder and added to low-grade meats. It adds bounce, increases the protein content on the nutrition label and, combined with water, is a substitute for meat.
The sharp practice of inventing positive sounding phrases for some of the most heinous food crimes is nothing new, but when you consider that minced up goo is legally being added into premium branded meat products to increase the profit margin such fairy tales have to be stopped.

Who could ever believe this to be a good idea?

Clearly no-one with the health of their customers in mind; am I alone in asking for a return to good old-fashioned food preparation and retailing, a degree of honesty in the way the ingredients for our daily meal are presented to us?

I just want some unsullied carrot, a bold bright potato or two and a clean local lamb chop so that I can be healthy and happy too.

Real foods not superfoods

Back in the early 1990s an author called Michael Van Straten published a cookbook called "superfoods" and probably coined one of the most overused terms in food marketing.

Everywhere we look there are claims of some strange berry or fruit being the elixir of life itself and that a daily dose will cure us of all ills.

Over time many such foods have been placed upon a pillar of health, and rampant claims for their power bandied across the media, often with a shrill endorsement from a tame actress or health guru.

I have always been deeply suspicious of all of these claims and endorsements as I don’t believe any one thing can be that good for us.

Balanced and varied meals are the key to good health as they provide the full range of nutrients and natural stimulants that our bodies need.
When I wrote the Natural Food Wisdom pack I did so to celebrate normal food.

I wanted to show that all food is good, but only if it is pure, natural and in as raw a state as possible – so I listed out 56 individual everyday food items and showed how they contributed to a healthy life.

There were no wild and wonderful berries, just plain old broccoli, cabbage and a very surprising overall winner for the healthiest food to eat (if you haven’t already got a copy make sure you complete your home health library here).

I think it is about time that truly healthy, local produce is given the respect it deserves.

For too long we have been subject to big corporations messing with our food, hiding potentially harmful ingredients within it like high fructose corn syrup, or just adding in goo and garbage to boost their profits.

Why isn’t more being done to stop this?

The harsh truth about those we trust to protect us
The Times was one of the newspapers which broke the scandal earlier this month of how government health advisers are actually on the take from food companies.

They reported how scientists on the board which provides guidance to ministers receive hundreds of thousands of pounds each year from brands such as Coca-Cola and Mars.

One of these corrupted experts, Frances Rawle – head of policy at the Medical Research Centre – tried to placate investigators by saying “We ensure that all research we fund is free of any influence from those with whom we collaborate”.

Well, I for one do not believe you. I think you are up to your stinking necks in collusion, sleight of hand and misdirection. And the nation’s health is all the worse for it.

And nuts to everyone... is this the true language of politicians?
On Valentine’s Day the Independent carried a report that a new food scandal was about to hit us which was more serious than the horsemeat crisis.

The story said that peanuts and almonds were being used in place of cumin seed and other aromatics to bulk up commonly eaten pre-prepared foods...

...a tactic that could have dire consequences for any unsuspecting allergy sufferers who consume the finished product.

A failed cumin harvest has made the spice more expensive, and this is being used as a justification for mixing in other ingredients to keep the food affordable.

But once again it has nothing to do with consumer demand and everything to do with bumping up the profit for business and retailers.
A report published this week about how peanut allergies could be countered by feeding nut extracts to babies as young as four months, made me think.

Whilst I suspect that this would prevent too many people getting allergies nowadays you have to ask why peanut allergies are becoming increasingly common – I don’t remember my mum cramming a bag of KP’s finest into my mouth as a kid, yet I don’t have the problem.

Rather than the issue being one of underexposure for infants could it be that the rest of our lives sees an overexposure?

For how long have unscrupulous manufacturers been using peanut products to bulk up their wares? I suspect for the last 15 years, which would tie up with the rise in childhood allergies.

By phasing in exposure from a very young age they hope to counteract the issues later on.

I suspect this to be yet another example of profit centred meddling in our diets. 

A crying shame that no government has got to grips with it – because there are too many of those in power who have their snouts firmly in the trough.

Yours, as always







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