Fortifying Foods: How much is too much?
Commentary by Bernice Hurst, Managing Director, Fine Food Network
We have a choice as to whether or not we buy functional foods, designed, we are told, to help us maintain our health and reduce the likelihood of developing certain diet-related
illnesses. They do not need to be medically prescribed and, therefore, consumption is uncontrolled. People who choose to include functional foods in their diets are, in fact,
self-diagnosing and have no way of identifying potential conflicts between various supposedly beneficial ingredients. Nor do they have any real way of measuring success.
While Diabetes UK, a non-profit working on behalf of people with diabetes, has been campaigning to curb the sale of treat foods aimed at diabetics on the grounds that they are
expensive and of little value, at least two companies using the word Nutrition in their names continue to develop products which they believe will either prevent or control diabetes.
Meanwhile, the British government is starting a trial giving tablets containing Omega 3 to schoolchildren in order to control their behavior as well as investigating the possible
long term use of new “anti-obesity” drugs that reduce the size of the human body.
Folic acid, fluoride and other vitamins and minerals are already added to food and even water as a matter of course. We must read the smallest print on the label to see what
is in it, but still, without knowing what benefits will allegedly result. Fortified foods do have to have government approval but, once they receive it, no further information
needs to be provided. So how can we tell whether fortified foods are, indeed, functional?
Moderator’s comment: How much do we really need to know about all the ingredients used to manufacture our food?
Some people would say that we have a right to choose. After all, choice is what manufacturers and retailers constantly say is what consumers demand and
what they seek to provide. But how much choice do we have when a label simply says that something is enriched or fortified? Not knowing what is in the food makes it that much
harder to identify the potential source of allergies or other problems we may encounter. We have no way of knowing whether we are consuming enough or too much of a particular
nutrient or mineral if we don’t know how much we’re consuming. Basically, there is no way of knowing how much is too much. –
Bernice Hurst – Moderator
- Diabetic treats are out – but what about functional foods? – Food & Drink Europe
- Plan to give pupils fish oil capsules – Times Online
- Radical moves to tackle obesity crisis – Guardian Unlimited