Case Studies Blog

Healthy eating is a can of worms

12th November 2014


Understanding what is actually in the food we eat is increasingly difficult. This is in spite of a number of attempts by various food bodies and regulators to bring clarity to food labelling chaos. The introduction of a traffic light system which provides “at-a-glance data” showing levels of salt, sugar and fat has been introduced by some supermarkets and food brands. The Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) have been replaced by “Reference Intakes” to show how much of the maximum daily intake of fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories is in a 100g portion. This is all very well but I don’t want to have to inspect everything I buy in order to check if it is “good” for me or not. Increasingly I feel that when I buy a ready meal from a supermarket or a branded soft drink, a tin of soup or a yoghurt I get a product made to a price point, where economies of scale and legal definitions are what dictate the quality of the ingredients list.

I would like to go back to the days when consumers trusted brands to look after their welfare. Brands were considered to be a badge of quality assurance even if this faith was misguided in some instances. Today consumers trust has shifted back towards small local brands and local sources of supply. Mass market brands have increasingly become purveyors of mediocrity, the choice of last resort.  When seeking something “special” “wholesome” and “delicious” local and small is beautiful – Godminster not Cathedral City, Luscombe not Lucozade, Dorset Cereals not Kellogg’s. Sadly as consumers become increasingly distanced from the source of the food they eat it becomes more difficult to tell the difference between friend and foe in the battle to eat food that is both healthy and delicious.

This week the Double Donut burger which consists of two beef burgers topped with cheese, four bacon rashers and BBQ sauce, sandwiched between two glazed ring-doughnuts caught my eye. At a mouth watering 1,996 calories and 53 grams of saturated fat, there was certain refreshing honesty in the description which read “So wrong it’s right” at least I knew where I stood. That is not something I feel when seeing lines of “low fat” products on the supermarket shelf where my instinct is to ask myself what they are hiding.