Well, going by the Dispatches programme tonight on Channel 4, when ever you buy a low fat product – and by that they mean a product that is promoted as a low fat alternative to a normally high fat product.
Unsurprisingly, the low fat versions, although lower in fat, were often still high enough to qualify for a red traffic light. Well, when a product like cheese is made mostly from the fat part of milk, no one should really be surprised.
More revealingly was how inaccurate manufacturers are allowed to be with nutritional information – up to 30% is acceptable. It is noticeable that this 30% appears to be ABOVE what is quoted and not below!
But however horrifying the revelations on the programme might have been, it did leave out a far more important worry about the amount of fat, sugar, salt and so on that we consume and that is our growing reliance on manufacturers to come up with low fat (or low anything else) versions of our favourite morsel rather than using our own knowledge of food.
Years ago, the Daily Mail in one of their “we hate Prince Charles” campaigns, decided to pounce on the Duchy Original Organic Pasty and denounce it as an unhealthy food. SIX HUNDRED CALORIES they shouted from the rooftops with their jaws sticking out and best “disgusted of Tonbridge Wells” hat on.
But, of course, this was nonsense. Firstly, the product manufacturers never claimed this was either healthy or a diet product, simply that it was made from good quality organic ingredients. Secondly, it is a Cornish Pasty, a meal in a pastry designed for Cornish tin miners – it is MEANT to be a high calorie dish – not a snack!
And this is the point. If you want to eat mayonnaise, make a beautiful, home made one with best olive oil, but do not pretend that it is going to low fat, it is not. So, if you want it, don’t eat much of it.
If you want fried chicken, then accept it will be high fat – don’t have a bucket load, just have a couple of pieces with lots of salad and no fries.
If you want to reduce your fat intake. move to foods that are naturally lower in fats and cooking methods that do not add too much. Poach chicken breasts in wonderful stock with loads of vegetables till just done and still moist – it is gorgeous. Eat white fish steamed or grilled with mashed veg made with lots of black pepper and garlic.
And where you do want something fatty, get a really good NON low fat version, but just enjoy a little, rather than stuff your face.
Should we trust the manufacturers? NO WAY!
But we should not blame them either – we need to take responsibility for our diets, buy fresh, simple (and cheap), eat smaller portions of the right food for our needs, and go tell Big Food PR men to go and lie their bums off to someone else.