The recent absence of ‘Rip Off ’ programmes from the schedules had me wondering if programme makers had let Rip Off RIP. But good news, scaremongering infotainment lovers, this week, it was back with Rip Off Food (7.30pm, BBC1, 14 August).
Power dressing as if it were the 80s, Gloria Hunniford clearly meant business as she set about exposing the labelling tricks of the trade deployed by the food and drink industry.
There were plenty of easy targets, including some that had been aimed at before - notably the use of cutesy brand names such as Ashfield Farm (Aldi), Willow Farm (Tesco) and Lochmuir salmon (M&S) to imply a small-scale outfit when none such exists (indeed, other than Willow Farm, not even the places do) - though bizarrely, Hunniford didn’t delve into their pricing - which I’d have thought would be key to a programme about rip-offs.
Consumers were given some genuine and alarming insights. Most people probably wouldn’t know products bearing a ‘one of your five a day’ message but not the official logo can be high in fat, sugar and salt - as illustrated by the trifle taken to then junior health minister Anne Milton containing 59g of sugar and 79.4g of fat per portion.
A Devon-based ‘Cornish’ pasty maker also neatly demonstrated the flaws of PGI classification when, standing on a bridge between the two counties, he made a pasty using local ingredients on the Devon side and one with internationally sourced ingredients on the other - the former winning a taste test but ineligible for PGI status.
“The trick is never to take anything at face value,” Hunniford advised sagely. Or, as most consumers will do, huff a bit and continue as before.