Thursday, August 20, 2009
This is "Health Food"???
On the front of the Personal Journal section of today's WSJ, there is an article entitled, "High Fiber Foods May Be Easier To Stomach This Time Around." The article overviews how food companies such as General Mills Inc., Kellogs Co., and Danone SA are developing new "high-tech" methods of producing fiber so that they can add it to their packaged foods in order to make them "more healthy." This is being done because fiber is the latest "ingredient de jour" and adding fiber to an otherwise "unhealthy" food all of the sudden make it "healthy." According to the article, "Packaged foods making fiber claims was one of the fastest growing categories in the US in the past year, increasing in unit sales by 10.2% in the 12 months ended Aug. 8th..." Also, "Consumers respond better to positive messages. They feel like they're losing something if you take away the salt, sugar, or fat," says Mary Ellen Camire, a professor at the University of Maine. So the companies are developing new processes to create tasteless, textureless fiber and add it to an unhealthy foods in order to magically transform them into "health" food!
This is just another example of food companies modifying food products to make them more "healthy." Are diets high in fiber good for you? Yes. But I would say that is because most diets high in fiber also contain lots of fruits and veggies, not modified food products with extra fiber (and still all the sodium, sugar, and fat, as mentioned above.) Does this processed fiber added to refined sugar and processed oils really constitute healthy eating? Of course not. But who said advertising had to be truthful?
The article is online, so you can read it if you choose but I'll end with some awesome quotes. Gotta love the oxymorons!
"Consumers are demanding more nutrition from their packaged foods, and food manufacturers hope that adding ingredients such as vitamins and fiber to foods, rather than merely removing unhealthy fat, sodium and sugar, will help stimulate sales."
"New grinding processes helped General Mills better shape fiber particles to reduce grittiness in the newest Fiber One cereals, says John Mendesh, vice president of research and development for the cereals division."
"Ingredient makers have also developed new sources for fiber powders and liquids beyond the traditional wheat and oats. They're extracting fiber from corn, seaweed and roots of herbs such as chicory or using bacteria to synthesize fibers"
"The nice thing of a lot of these [fibers] is, they're kind of easy to sneak into a lot of these products," says Joanne Slavin, a nutrition professor and fiber researcher at the University of Minnesota. Today, "you can make really good white bread and people don't know they're eating fiber."