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Saturday, December 31, 2016

'Natural' Food

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Naturally Misleading?

"We see Haagen-Dazs with an artisan ice cream for example. We see Nestle with a mainstream brand of chocolate in Europe which is called l'Atelier which is the workshop... It looks handcrafted, it looks like it's made in a workshop. It's made in a Nestle factory alongside our Nestle chocolate products. But it's using that sort of language and using the visual appearance sometimes of products and even the colour of the packaging to emphasise something which is perhaps a little bit more natural...

'Consumers are less informed and therefore often base their food choices more on assumptions than facts. Take growth hormones for instance. According to both industry and regulatory sources, use of synthetic hormones in widespread in both beef and dairy farming. I asked Joe about hormones for chicken'

'Not legal... which is why it's so silly we see so many labels saying no added hormones for chicken, because it's not allowed. This whole thing really comes down to marketing'...

'One packet of pork loin steaks... the pork loin steaks, they're from Tesco and it says on it Woodside Farms. And the sausages they've got on it a nice picture of a country cottage.'

'Yeah, we've got a little bit less picture of the Woodside Farm. But I think the Woodside Farm they focused on that name being enough for us to get that illusion of providence and Britishness.'

'The problem is only one of the farms mentioned on those particular packets there is real. The other doesn't actually exist'

'It's a fictional farm, yeah. It's a brand. It's designed to do two things. One to give the consumer this illusion of provenance and make them think they're buying something British but also to give Tesco or whoever else creates these fictional farm names the flexibility to source from anywhere. Because they don't want to just source from one farm. And to be fair one farm unless it was pretty large couldn't supply all of Tesco's pork loin steak needs. But they want the flexibility to source from anywhere whether it's cheaper, whether they want to go around the world. But it is slightly misleading because if you see the Woodside Farms the big label at the top and you have to look very very small letters there...'

'Reared in Denmark, slaughtered in Denmark'...

'And there's no Danish flag or anything to help us realise that'...

[In China] Koon Ho [sp?] is a lawyer who used to work for China's equivalent of the FDA in Beijing. He says he's spent most of his time dealing with people who made a living out of suing food retailers.

'We have a very special group of people. I call them professional defective food buyers. Their main activities are going to the supermarket, locating some defective food, especially on the food labelling. They pick what's wrong in the labelling and they file a complaint to the FDA. If FDA rules that it is a food law or regulation violation, then they will be mostly likely to get 10 times compensation from the food seller.'

Some people are making up to $45,000 a year doing this...

Consumers also want consistency... they trust products where every time they eat it, it's going to taste the same, it's gonna feel the same and look the same. That's kinda of impossible when we're talking about really pure and natural products. Processing is part of what consumers like because it brings consistency and it brings a distribution that they appreciate so they want a level of processing whether they say it or not because they want a brand that means something, every time they buy it they know exactly what they're going to get. Or maybe what they really want is the feeling that it hasn't been processed too much...

The additives, they fall into 6 groups. So we've got anti-oxidants, colours, emulsifiers, flavour enhancers, preservatives and sweeteners. We use additives on an everyday basis in lots of our foods. And we preserve in lots of our ways. For example, fresh vegetables over frozen vegetables. If we were to store those fresh vegetables longer than their sell-by date... than they were good in terms of vitamins and minerals, we wouldn't be getting the same nutritional value as if we were to have frozen. When it's frozen, it doesn't decompose, if you like"
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