Saturday, 19 January 2013

Potato Based Snacks Anyone?

Today we have a short review of a crunchy snack made from potato, oil and flour. The product is presented as something reasonably “healthy”.
On the front of the small bag is text claiming that it is Free From. In smaller print it then lists: MSG, artificial flavours and artificial colours and made with 100% healthy-sounding oil. Does it say: free from vitamins? Almost free from fibre? Negligible amount of protein? No I’m afraid not.
A smaller label on the front tells us that: 25g contains 127 calories, and 0.25g of salt - 6% of an adult’s guideline daily amount (GDA) and 8% of GDA for salt. So far, so not-too-bad. Free from “nasties” and only 6% of your GDA for calories. Not too bad at all, you might think.
But if you turn the packet over and look carefully, the bag contains 50g. No outright lies here but more than a little misleading to put 25g on the front and tuck away the 50g at the back. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that a hurried shopper, trying to grab a not-too-unhealthy snack, would look no further than the messages on the front of the package. But, like “free from” this device is a common form of healthwash.
If you double up the calories to allow for the 50g, it takes your insubstantial crunchy snack up to 12% of your daily calorie needs. Just over 250 calories. No longer so insignificant if someone it trying to control their intake.
If challenged, the manufacturers would, no doubt, offer the "recommended serving" defence that is all too common. But how many people buy one of these small packets to share? Mothers of miniscule children maybe? More often a whole packet is given to a child, or is eaten by an adult as an inconsequential bit of crunch to accompany a soggy sandwich.
Is this a healthy snack, as the manufacturers would have us believe? No, it is a little bag of calories with only traces of other nutrients. The best that can be said is that it is better than eating sweets.
On this small packet we have a classic example of the commonly-used marketing strategies used to make processed foods look healthier than they really are.

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