My word I’ve been lousy about posting lately, haven’t I? Sorry folks, there have been a number of other non-culinary projects on the boil including painting half of Stately Prick Manor — an experience the Prick found almost meditative but which anyone else would find as boring as, well, watching paint dry — so there has not been a lot to say over here in the food department.
That said, my latest in the Daily Telegraph may be of interest. The Prick doesn’t like processed food any more than the next inner-west bourgeois bohemian, but expensive government meddling (as in the “star system” to rate products recently axed by the in-strife Fiona Nash) to no result leaves an even worse taste:
Amazingly, however, neither the government nor much of the press is focusing on the most important question in the story. That is, would such a website — or any other star-rating system for food — do any good? …
There’s no question that foods should be labelled so consumers know what they’re getting (and that information is already there).
But nutrition is complex and hardly “settled science”, as anyone who has visited a bookshop and seen titles urging readers to either quit or keep eating sugar side by side can attest. And this is the heart of the matter: just because you offer consumers more information does not necessarily mean you are offering good, or genuinely useful, information.
Reducing the relative healthiness of any particular product to one simple index is near-impossible. An index of nutrition is nothing like a rating to indicate how much power or petrol a new washing machine or automobile might consume. Nor do stars help the millions of Australians who need to avoid particular ingredients such as sugar, salt or allergens.
Under close examination it becomes clear that the axed system had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. Under the system, it is reported that high-calorie, sugar-laden fruit juices would have received a five-star rating, the best there is.
Would consumers be forgiven for thinking washing down a bowl of poorly rating, highly processed, sugary breakfast cereal with a big glass of the stuff might still average out to a healthy meal?
Read the whole thing, as the saying goes, and have a lovely Friday. The Prick is off to partake in some noms processed by the Big Food empire of Neil Perry. Full report over the weekend.