Saturday, August 22, 2009


Increasing exposure of the consumers to information about health and nutrition is creating a situation where their cursory knowledge is being exploited by a section of the food processing industry. Imagine potato chips with more than 50% oil content being marketed as a health food by adding some nutrients like vitamins or a fizz drink with added Vitamin C being touted as immune building product! There are hundreds of examples of such deceitful practices adopted for expanding the reach of many products. It is unbelievable that the so called nutraceutical industry is able to attract droves of consumers to their products with doubtful health claims, usually propagated through visual media.

The US, which is a leader in junk food peddling has large number of such foods though they are supposed to have strict overseeing infrastructure in place to discourage such deceitful practices."From heart-friendly margarines to sugary cereals that strengthen bones, once-demonized foods are being spiked with nutrients to give them a healthier glow — and consumers are biting, even on some that are little more than dressed-up junk food".

In India also such trends are beginning in the food sector, especially through promotions in the media. While labeling guidelines are some what stringent, overseeing malpractices in advertisement is lax allowing many culprits to get away. High calorie density products rich in sugar or fats can never be healthy foods, no matter what nutrients are added to them during processing. If industry cannot discipline itself, it is time government steps in with punitive impositions to curb such undesirable practices.

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