Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It is well known that kids, given a choice, invariably do not like to eat vegetables, whether they are in India or the US while governments world over make conscious efforts to encourage vegetable consumption at least to the minimum level recommended by nutritional experts. Vegetables are considered protective foods because they are rich sources of minerals, vitamins and health promoting phytochemicals. Without getting into the controversial issue as to how this vegetable "shunning" habit is formed, for which there are many reasons, the need to change the kids' diet composition is universally recognized. If willingly this cannot be accomplished, there has to be alternate strategies to protect their health. Blaming the industry solely for the current situation where kids are hooked on to calorie rich, high fat and high sugar foods, is not a solution as parents and the school system also have to bear part of the responsibility. The latest move by some members of the US food industry to increase the content of vegetables in their processed food products is a welcome move in the long run. Though they are being criticized for not being transparent, the end probably will justify the means!

"Don't tell the kids! Kraft Foods is the latest large food manufacturer to try hiding additional veggies in packaged foods, an effort to ride a renewed interest in healthy eating to fatter profits. It's a slowly growing trend, and it's one that is dividing food industry experts. In June, Wal-Mart and Target stores started stocking Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner Veggie Pasta across the country, alongside boxes of the traditional recipe and other alternative versions, including organic and whole grain. Every neon-orange cup serving of the new recipe packs a half-serving of cauliflower. Kraft joins brands such as ConAgra Foods' Chef Boyardee, which includes enough tomato in some of its canned pasta to claim half a cup of vegetables per serving, and Unilever's Ragu pasta sauces, which says it has two servings of veggies for every half cup of sauce. "We know moms are always looking to please their kids and wanting to not make meals a big ordeal, insofar as being able to get them to eat their food," said Alberto Huerta, who oversees the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese brand at Kraft. "Mom is looking for ways to sneak veggies into her kids' diet."In the Kraft product, the company freeze-dries cauliflower and pulverizes it into a powder, then uses that powder to replace some of the flour in the pasta".

Strict interpretation of the food law might not condone such a practice because of the legal provision, mandating the manufacturers to declare each and very ingredient in the packed food to be listed in the order of their concentration. If there is indeed a legal hitch, the food authorities must change the law to encourage more manufacturers to adopt such a practice. As long as the vegetables incorporated are edible, there should not be any objection and if there has to be a monitoring need a provision to just inform the regulatory authorities will meet with that requirement.

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