Monday, September 22, 2008

The dark side of light

Monday, September 22, 2008 2

The cavalier attitude the food industry takes with regard to our health never ceases to amaze me.

I went shopping for sugar for the first time ever today - I know, rock 'n' roll baby! Until now my aim has been to eliminate as much of it as possible from my diet, but as I've been getting head-rushes recently I thought I'd try boosting my blood sugar level to see if that might settle the dizzy spells.

I spotted something called 'Silver Spoon Light' on the shelf of my local supermarket and wondered how sugar can be any lighter, unless of course you use less of it; the only ingredient in a bag of sugar after all is sugar.

Well not in this bag of special sugar. 'Light' is cut with the artificial sweeteners Aspartame and Acesulfame-K, E numbers customarily linked to a laundry list of minor to extremely severe health complaints. These and Maltodextrin, probably thrown in as a cheap bulking agent.

I just don't get it; surely if people want to cut the calories and don't care about the health repercussions (or aren't aware of them) they'll buy an artificial sweetener, and if they like sugar, but would rather not sprinkle poison on their Shreddies, they'll buy pure, uncontaminated sugar. Who is going to buy a hybrid of the two on the basis that it's likely to be only half or a third as toxic as the fake gunk?

Interesting that the packet of Silver Spoon's ordinary granulated sugar proudly exclaims that it is "pure and natural", "containing no additives or preservatives", while their 'Light' spin-off more meekly explains that it is "granulated sugar with sweetener", the "with sweetener" part printed in smaller, less prominent text, almost as an afterthought I should add.

The web site helpfully suggests that because "Silver Spoon Light looks and tastes just like regular sugar but has 30% fewer calories per spoonful" you should "put it in your sugar bowl, your family won’t notice the difference".

What, without pausing to mention that you've switched the contents with something that could potentially make them seriously ill? Maybe while you're at it - if you're that way inclined - you could rig the doors in your house with a precariously balanced bucket of boiling hot tar or lay a bear trap in the garden.

The thought is almost as unsavoury as the product.

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