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Lies Of the Food Industry
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Lies Of the Food Industry

posted in Ship Happens by Ship It on 10:31 Jul 25th, 2016<< Back to Ship Happens

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 According to research commissioned by Trace One, 63% of consumers said their trust in the food industry had been damaged by the 2013 European horsemeat scandal.

Could this explain why consumers are increasingly shopping from smaller brands, where the origin of the product is easier to trace?

Between 2009 and 2014 the US’ 25 largest food and drinks companies saw their share of the market drop from 49.4% to 45.1%.

If the food industry wants our trust back, they need to increase transparency and offer more information as to the origin of products and their ingredients – so why are we still being fed lies this these…?

 lies the food industry tells infographic

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The lie

Foods made from multigrain, whole-grain, whole-wheat, and whole-meal are equally healthy.

The truth

Whole-wheat, whole-grain, and whole-meal are all very healthy – ‘multigrain’ is a pretty meaningless term.

What’s going on?

Whole-meal, whole-wheat, and whole-grain flours are essentially the same thing – flours made from the entire grain of the plant (also known as a ‘kernel’).

The main difference is that whole-wheat refers to a specific type of grain (wheat) while whole-grain can refer to any type of grain, such as spelt, oats, or barley. Whole-meal is also more commonly used in the UK while whole-grain and whole-wheat are more commonly used in the US.

Multigrain however simply means the food contains different types of grain – not that it’s made with whole grains. Some multigrain breads offer little more nutritional value than white bread.

Should I be worried?

Not really – but if you regularly choose ‘multigrain’ products, you might want to check the label. If the first ingredient is a ‘whole’ grain, you’re good. If not, consider choosing a whole-wheat, whole-grain, or whole-meal product instead.


The lie

That prime cut is from a single piece of meat.

The truth

Your “prime” cut might actually be formed from multiple cuts (potentially even from different animals) and stuck together using “transglutaminase”.

What’s going on?

More commonly known as “meat glue”, transglutaminase is an enzyme used to bind food products together. While rumour has it that transglutaminase is used illegitimately in the meat industry, it’s also commonly used by chefs to bind dishes like oven-baked roulades and sushi (The Fat Duck’s Heston Blumenthal is believed to be one of its earliest adopters).

Should you be worried?

Potentially –risk of food-borne illnesses increase in cuts of meat that have been bonded together and not cooked through fully (just like when you eat an undercooked beef burger).


The lie

That saffron you’re paying top dollar for is 100% the real thing.

The truth

It could be as little as 10% saffron, and is unlikely to be more than 60%.

What’s going on?

Saffron is actually the dried stigma of the crocus sativus Linnaeus, of which 85,000 are needed to produce a kilo of the finished product.

That kilo’s worth £6000, while a gram sells for around £6. That means there’s big money to be made in selling adulterated saffron to unwitting foodies – a practice which is nothing new - it’s been going on for at least 600 years.

Should I be worried?

Adulterated saffron isn’t harmful, but it certainly doesn’t have the same prized, pungent aroma as the real thing. If you’re using it to whip up a traditional Valencian paella, you might be disappointed by the result.


The lie

The ingredients in your food are what most people would generally classify as “food”.

The truth

A lot of foods actually contain “wood pulp”.

What’s going on?

Listed as “cellulose” on food labels, “wood pulp” is used to provide texture to processed foods – it makes low-fat dairy products creamier, adds fibre to bread, and stops grated cheese from sticking together –all without affecting taste or, since we’re unable to digest it, adding calories.

Should I be worried?

In short, no. Cellulose forms the structure of all plant walls, which means it’s naturally occurring in each and every plant-based food we eat. The fact the processed version is extracted from wood is irrelevant – it shares the same chemical structure as the cellulose found in fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great source of indigestible fibre, which is thought to help prevent colon cancer.


The lie

0 grams of trans fat means foods are 100% trans fat free.

The truth

Foods labelled “0 grams trans fat” could actually contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

What’s going on?

U.S. food manufacturers are legally able to label foods containing less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving as ‘trans fat free’ (the UK has no current guidelines for the labelling of trans fats in foods).

Should I be worried?

Yes. Trans fats can clog arteries and raise levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, leaving us at risk of heart attack and stroke. And, although the FDA recently instructed food manufacturers to stop using partially hydrogenated oils (the main source of artificial trans fats) they have until June 2018 to phase them out.

In the meantime, be wary of anything labelled ‘trans fat free’. 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving might not sound like much, but if you eat a lot of processed foods it can quickly add up.


The lie

Your chicken might be plumped using saltwater, chicken stock, seaweed or a combination of the above.

The truth

Your chicken might also be pumped with bulking agents made from beef and pork waste.

What’s going on?

Using a new DNA marker technique, the FSA tested five protein powders from three companies. All five were found to contain a non-poultry material identified as bovine collagen. Further tests found the presence of porcine material in two powders.

Tests picked up traces of beef in one of three chicken breasts.

Should you be worried?

Probably not – this happened in 2009 and there have been no similar reports since – however it should serve as a stark reminder that, like with the horse meat scandal, fraud can and does affect our food supply – especially when we can’t trace the origin of what we’re eating.


What Else is Allowed in Your Food?


You might think food manufacturing plants are squeaky clean but foreign ‘ingredients’ regularly wind up in the products they produce. So regularly in fact, that the FDA has ‘strict limits’ on how much of certain ‘foreign ingredients’ can be in a product before they take action (their reasoning being that “just a little bit really won’t hurt you”).


Maximum of “20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms”.

Mammalian Excreta

Allowed in foods including pepper, oregano, and cocoa beans in quantities up to “10mg per pound”, depending on the product.


Permitted in apple butter in quantities averaging 12%.

Rodent Hair

Allowed in many foods in various quantities depending on the product (up to 9 hairs per 10 grams).


Up to 25mg per 100g of peanut butter and 40mg per 100g of raisins.


Permitted in fish in quantities of up to 60 parasitic cysts per 100 pounds of fish.

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