Sneaky foods: one product I object to
Posted by kathryn in Labels & advertising
Last week I blogged about some of the tricks and traps of food labelling – the marketing that’s used to make a product look better than it actually is.
There are many, many examples of this. Some more obvious than others.
While spiderman chocolate breakfast cereal is a true Frankenstein food, it’s pretty obvious this product is not healthy. Instead it’s the more sneaky products that drive me up the wall. And the top of my most hated list?
Gourmet Garden Herb blends.
These are the squeezy tubes of “herbs” that sit in the fridge of the fruit and veg section, right next to the fresh herbs.
Why pick on Gourmet Garden Herbs?
I can see the attraction. It’s a convenience food, marketed as a quick and easy alternative to using fresh herbs. They seem quite innocuous.
However this product ticks many of the tricks and traps boxes.
Firstly it masquerades as something fresh and therefore healthy. It’s there in the name Gourmet Garden herbs and in the red seal on the front, promising a “fresh chopped taste”. The illusion of being something special and premium.
But it’s not fresh chopped – in fact it’s not “fresh” at all.
How much herb is in there?
But the main reason I object to Gourmet Garden Herbs is the additives and extras they contain. They’re positioned in the supermarket right next to the fresh herbs. They’re marketed as an alternative to fresh herbs. But they contain a whole lot of ingredients not found in fresh herbs.
In the Gourmet Garden range the amount of actual herb in the product varies between 33 and 63 percent. That’s it. The smallest amount of actual herb is in the rosemary, while the higher number is the coriander.
There’s an indication of this in the name on the front. These products are actually described as herb blends. So the rosemary is called Rosemary Herb Blend. There’s a Basil Herb Blend and a Coriander Herb Blend. But the words Herb Blend are in smaller letters and it’s really not obvious what they mean.
What else is in there?
Next to the herb the biggest ingredient is sugars – in different forms. Most contain both glucose syrup and dextrose. Other ingredients include:
- canola oil
- acidity regulator
- whey powder
That’s a lot of ingredients for something that’s offered as an alternative to fresh herbs.
This extra sugar and oil means the Rosemary Herb Blend has twice the kilojoules and almost three times the fat of fresh rosemary. And it’s unnecessary kilojoules and fat.
I’ll agree there are worse products out there. Foods that do far, far more damage. Foods that have a much larger impact on your health. But these herb blends turn a wonderful healthy addition to your cooking into something negative.
They are marketed as an alternative to fresh herbs. But they’re sneaky. It’s not a fresh product. They do not provide the same flavour. And they’re not a patch on fresh herbs.