February 6, 2012

Salt, Sugar and Fat in Processed Food and the Misleading Corporations

Have you the time to
bake bread tonight?
Everyone eats processed food. Or just about everyone. Unless you are a pioneer living in the woods and have the time after work to bake bread, make your own sausages, whip up a home-made lasagna or a beef stew, then you are most probably using processed foods or going out to eat at a fast food restaurant at some time during the work-week. 

Wikipedia defines processed food as commercially prepared convenience food designed for ease of consumption. Products designated as convenience foods are often prepared food stuffs that can be sold as hot, ready-to-eat dishes; as room-temperature, shelf-stable products; or as refrigerated or frozen products that require minimal preparation (typically just heating).

These products are often sold in portion controlled, single serve packaging designed for portability and "on-the-go" eating. Convenience food can include products such as candy; beverages such as soft drinks, juices and milk; fast food; nuts, fruits and vegetables in fresh or preserved states; processed meats and cheeses; and canned products such as soups and pasta dishes, etc. 

Salt, fat and sugar in processed foods are becoming a North American problem, which no one seems to address. If this issue is addressed by Government agencies in Canada and the U.S.A., it is only marginally and is only a token nod to the entire issue of the healthiness of these products. 

Horse on a salt lick
I won't even go into fat and sugar here. I will just talk about salt in our diets. Salt to essential to mammalian life. Anyone who has ever seen a cow at a salt-lick will know this. Elephant herds will travel miles to chew up some salty dirt. 

However, excessive salt consumption in humans can lead to:

Stroke and cardiovascular disease
High blood pressure
Left ventricular hypertrophy (cardiac enlargement)

Now that every second person is aware of health risks due to processed food and wants to lower salt consumption, some food manufacturers have taken on a new ploy and that is misleading labelling. 

Example in Canada: Campbell's Healthy Request soup:
"Healthy Request" - is it?

Campbell's has a special line of healthy soups that contain whole grains and vegetables, along with a label that says the product contains 25 per cent less sodium compared to their other soups.

However, Campbell's Healthy Request soup uses two-thirds of the 398-millilitre container for its serving size. If a person were to eat the whole container (about 1 1/2 cups), they would ingest 750 milligrams of sodium, or more than half the daily recommended amount of salt.

What grown man can't eat 1 1/2 cups of soup for lunch? Half of it is water. 

When asked about this, the Campbell's corporation stated:  "The amount Canadians choose to eat will vary depending on their individual lifestyle and dietary needs."

Campbell's is implying that you don't have to eat the whole thing. Keep it in the fridge at work and you can eat half a cup of soup tomorrow. This will reduce your salt consumption.

Yah, right.  Give me a break. 

The label is misleading to those who aren't studying it in depth. Regardless of the labelling, the product is loaded with salt, despite the fact that it says that it is a salt-reduced product. 

Premium amounts of salt
Safeway in Canada doesn't even bother to hide the salt. The other day, I foolishly bought a tray of "Safeway Select Tandoori Chicken Breast". This is a lunch deal. You put it in the microwave and eat it.  Don't let them con you into thinking that this is an entire dinner-time entree. I could knock this off in a heartbeat. 

It's all about the money
This product contains 48 percent of the recommended daily salt intake. 

It is time that we all spoke up to our governments about food processing. It is time that we demanded a government-mandated reduction in salt, sugar and fat in these foods. 

God save us from the Corporations, who overload processed food with salt, sugar and fat to make more money for themselves, at the expense of the health of the consumer. This is all about corporate greed.  These Corporations are not in the business of babying us.  They are in the business of babying their stockholders. 

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