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Too much time was spent on well-worn scares about emulsifiers, sweeteners and additives

One of the best TV tropes is of a cantankerous old academic whose long-ignored findings are finally being taken notice of.

Enter Professor Erik Millstone of the University of Sussex. His straight-talking expose of Big Food and Big Chemical’s influence on regulations around potentially harmful chemicals in food was the highlight of a lacklustre Panorama, Ultra-Processed Food: A Recipe for Ill Health? (BBC1, 5 June, 8pm).

Millstone wasn’t so concerned with the nitty gritty of the studies, but with how those studies are funded.

Shock, horror: corporation-funded studies are favourable, whereas independent studies indicate health risks. “A very profound and dangerous bias,” Millstone said.

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Further in, the programme touched on how the committee that advises the FSA on such matters is chaired by an industry-linked, and humorously named, Dr Boobis. But not enough.

Despite the scandal in its grasp, too much time was spent on well-worn scares about emulsifiers, sweeteners and additives. What ultra-processed food actually is wasn’t well explained, with viewers forced to scan slideshows of pizza and chicken nuggets for clues.

Not a single probing question to government, fmcg brand or supermarket. Nor any exploration of the price difference between ultra-processed and wholefood shopping baskets.

Instead, twins took on contrasting diets for two weeks. The junk food scoffer ended the fortnight heavier, and like viewers, still hungry for more.