Home Roland Rocchiccioli There is nothing to be accomplished by living in the past

There is nothing to be accomplished by living in the past

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There is nothing to be accomplished by living in the past – yearning for the days of yore when things were different, and, dare I venture to say, perhaps more agreeable in some aspects. Time has passed. The world has moved-on. We have to accept the changes – although not all have been for the better.

Food is a very different matter these days, and its processing and availability has been revolutionised to such a degree that someone who lived in the 30s and 40’s would not instantly recognise the range which now we are offered. What we recognise today as processed goods were not readily available in such abundance; but that is not to say they did not have tinned food. I remember tins of sausages and vegetables, spaghetti and meat balls, camp pie, and lambs’ tongues in jelly, which were a particular favourite of my father. He took small tins with him for lunch when he was working on the woodline train, carting wood.

For the greater part food was prepared in the house; certainly that which was fed to infants and toddlers was prepared daily – and with particular care. I recall Beria’s daughter-in-law spent the greater part of the morning preparing and boiling vegetables for her son’s lunch. It was such rigmarole, and seemed to go on for ever. Children were not fed sugar ladened-food, and for the most part, it was not available in shops. Something to eat after school would have been a slice of fresh bread and butter with fig or lumpy apricot jam or vegemite; a piece of Beria’s fruit slice, cold steamed bread pudding, or a piece of fruit. In the summer it would be an enormous piece of watermelon, or a bunch of grapes or figs –all which grew in profusion in the yard. Cheese, ham – which was cut from the leg hanging on the back verandah, and freshly picked tomatoes, were a regular part of the diet. I was surprised to read on the ABC news website, that a food for toddlers marketed as being made almost entirely from fruit and vegetables, contains so much sugar, it should be deemed confectionery by experts, the Federal Court has heard.

Legal action against food giant Heinz has started in Adelaide, with the consumer watchdog alleging the, “Little Kids Shredz”, range misleads the public about the nutritional content of the product. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched the legal action in June last year, after a complaint by the Obesity Policy Coalition about food products for toddlers. The packaging of the Shredz products features images of fruit and vegetables and states it is: “99-per cent fruit and veg”. In his opening address, counsel representing the ACCC, Tom Duggan, told the court the “berries, apple and veg” variety contains 68.7 grams of sugar per 100 grams. That is astonishing, by any standard.

“This product has added sugar, and, as a consequence, it is not a nutritious alternative to the fruit and vegetables depicted on the packaging,” he said. Mr Duggan said the court would hear evidence about the use of apple juice concentrate in the product which is an added sugar: “There are two important differences between the Shredz product and dried fruit, one is the addition of the apple juice concentrate,” he said.”Accepting that it is a naturally occurring sugar, it is still an added sugar.” The court heard the sugar content of the product defies Heinz’s own health guidelines.

“Heinz’s internal guide specifies that the less than 30-percent sugar guide includes the use of fruit juice and fruit paste,” Mr Duggan said.”This is an extra food; it is not a substitute for fruit and veg.”

Nutritionist and dietitian Rosemary Stanton gave evidence to the court. Dr Stanton, who helped devise the Australian dietary guidelines, said the bars more closely resembled confectionery than fruit or vegetables:”Confectionery with added vitamins is still confectionery,” she said.

Under cross-examination, Dr Stanton agreed with counsel representing Heinz, Rowena Orr, that the bars had some dietary fibre and nutrients, but she told the court the same could be said of other junk foods:”There are positive nutrients in these products, just as there are positive nutrients in a Big Mac,” she said.

Dr Stanton told the hearing there were many foods which had been given a “halo of respectability” just by having some nutrients added to them:”We have 50-percent of children, in the one-to-three or the two-to-three age group, who are having more than the maximum amount of recommended sugars. We have some very real problems,” she said. “What we have tried to do with the guidelines is to have them as food-based guidelines, not nutrient-based guidelines.”

Heinz rejects ACCC claims, says food ‘appropriate’ In a statement, Heinz said it strongly rejected claims made against it by the ACCC about the packaging:”The Shredz products were snack foods available in small individually packaged serves, appropriate for children aged one to three,” it said.

“The Shredz products had a similar nutrition profile to dried apple or sultanas. Heinz stands behind the Shredz products and their packaging.”

There is no doubt – sugar is a problem in our diets. For the most part, we consume too much – and it is harmful to our health and our weight. Seven out of 10 packaged foods contain added sugar that is not clearly identified by nutrition labels, according to new research. Experts found foods with low nutritional value — such as cakes, pies, ice cream, pastries, processed meats, potato chips and soft drinks — contained on average almost four times more added sugar than foods such as cheese, milk, bread, yoghurts or plain cereals like oats.

Roland can be heard each MONDAY morning on 3BA at 10.30.Contact: rolandroc@bigpond.com