With reference to “Government to restrict terms like ‘fresh’, ‘natural’ in food ads” (November 23), imagine a Tetra Pak of strawberry milkshake claiming to made from the “goodness” of “real” strawberries and additionally packed with vitamins and minerals. If you believe them to be true, then it is time to open your eyes. Famous American investigative journalist Eric Schlosser wrote long ago in his revealing book “Fast Food Nation” that there were 59 synthetic chemicals such as “amyl acetate, amyl butyrate.... vanillin, and solvent” to make the “strawberry flavour” in the said milkshake, not to speak of excessive sugar etc. Likewise, consider a packaged fruit juice made with “real fruit”, “no added sugar” and “no preservatives”. When the same fruit juice that is made at home turns sour and foul if preserved for more than three days, how can any packaged juice sit fresh for months on end on supermarket shelves? Such processed foods abound in the market. There is no real vanilla in a vanilla ice cream or mango in a mango cream biscuit. Add to this the concerns over the use of harmful chemicals used in noodles, breads etc. that raged a controversy last year.
One hopes all such “health blarney” will come to an end, with the latest decision of the Union health ministry to curb claims such as “natural”, “fresh” and “real”, so that consumers can make informed choices and lead a healthy life. Also, in the wake of the genetically modified (GM) food crops controversy in our country, it is essential to label the ingredients (oils, sweeteners etc.) as either of GM-origin or not. In the US, for instance, by asserting one’s right to safe food as a democratic right, there is a strong consumer movement underway to get GMO labelling passed under law, battling resistance from big corporations.
C V Krishna Manoj Hyderabad
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