03 Dec Insider View: November 2015
… the regularity – and sometimes contradictory – reports in the media are leading many to ignore advice.
Following the recent decision by the World Health Organisation to add processed meat to its list of carcinogenic foods, the Department of Heath now recommends cutting down on red / processed meat to 70g a day – the equivalent of just one sausage. This led to much media interest and often sensational headlines, even in the broadsheets: The Daily Telegraph reported that ‘processed meat’ is now ranked as a ‘group one carcinogen’ – the same ranking as cigarettes, alcohol and even asbestos! This report was quickly followed by another headline  based on a report by the University of Texas that linked eating large amounts of fried or barbecued meat with kidney cancer. This is the first time that a study has looked at the way that cooking meat can impact on the level of toxins and signals a new avenue of food related angst. From experience, the regularity – and breadth – of these health scares will negate their impact amongst many, particularly given the contradictory reports that emerge equally frequently (think eggs, butter, caffeine and alcohol).
There are many who like to influence the way we eat and what we eat, great material for hungry news and social media, but it is not only confusing and irritating for consumers, but potentially damaging for the industries involved. In this case short term sales of bacon and sausages were down the week following the new WHO guidelines, but recovered quickly, with UK Butchers yet to notice a significant drop in sales . Just looking at this month’s Foodfax reports, two meat products scored above norm for health: one a ‘slow cooked’ variant (no searing heat here) from Sainsbury’s: “sweet and smoky” Slow Cooked Rack of Ribs (48), and another battered chicken product from Tesco made without wheat: Battered Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce (36). As in the past, consumers look beyond short term headlines and adopt a more pragmatic approach to their diet, with many fully aware they should be cutting down on ‘bad’ foods, but happy to stick to the age old advice: ‘everything in moderation’.
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- Kestrel Foods is bang on trend with its Street Food Koh Samui Thai Spice; a “moreish”, sweet-savoury combination bringing a Taste of Thailand (Showcase Product of the month Review 151120)
- The ‘gluten free status’ of another Oriental Snack was an added bonus: Symington’s innovative Vietnamese Style Beef Pho Rice Noodles. Review 151119
- Meanwhile, Asda spread a bit of festive magic with its Cake Pop Kit: “perfect for kids”, an assembly kit for novice bakers (Review: 151123)
- And Ribena is given a touch of Winter Spice (Review: 151124)
While Iceland gets ready for the inevitable New Year diet with a range of frozen Slimming World Soups. World Pea & Ham Soup was “tasty” as well as “healthy”. Review 151126.
2 As highlighted by the Meat Trades Journal via their website: http://meatinfo.co.uk
3 Private Eye November 2015