>>THE ISSUES THAT MATTER, FROM THE PEOPLE INVOLVED
My sister accidentally picked up the wrong can of a well-known brand of baked beans the other day when doing her weekly shop at a local supermarket.
She had intended to buy the normal version, a product that has been a staple in both our diets since early childhood and which my three-year-old nephew now tucks into with great delight. But it was not until she tasted the beans that she realised there was, as she says, “something wrong” and that they were “disgusting”.
Now, before I get inundated by phone calls from said brand, there is a simple explanation as to why my sister did not like these beans. They were the low-salt version and her palate was not attuned to them.
It is experiences such as this, however, that serve to highlight the fine line food manufacturers have to tread when trying to comply with the diktats of the health police. Just one small adjustment to the composition of a product and the taste can be radically altered. The result? Consumers don’t like it and they don’t buy it.
Now, in the case of the beans, the company offered a new version while retaining the original, which has also seen a reduction, but to a lesser degree. A prudent step.
But if manufacturers are to reduce salt, sugar, fat or any other ingredient within their core products, as the powers that be require, there must be a drip-by-drip approach if they are not to offend consumers’ tastebuds. Any acceleration in reformulation and it will be these manufacturers that will be suffering ill health.
In our special report on page 28, we bring you up to date with the many health consultations taking place at the moment. And, as you will see, there are indeed many - and more to come. The DoH even wants you to help with a public information campaign to raise awareness and promote healthy diet and exercise. Aside from the question of whether this is yet another responsibility readers of this publication should shoulder, I cannot help but raise an eyebrow. For was it not just two weeks ago that the National Playing Fields Association revealed that 34,000 - that’s nearly half - of all sports pitches had been lost in the past 13 years?
The message is clear. This industry will continue to bear the brunt of government policies to fight obesity. Whatever you manufacture, there will be a relevant consultation going on now. Make sure your views are heard.
Beware the DIET police!