This was a gastronomic horror story, with Tom Heap and Simon Boazman providing the metaphor for a culinary Freddie Kruger and the Candyman as they presented us with horror upon horror in last night’s show. And as it came on, I’d just eaten fish and chips… or had I??
I came away from this programme thinking that nothing’s as it seems in the world of food trading. I thought I was eating cod and spuds, but in actuality, it could’ve been Korean Catfish and stuff injected with water, and all washed in anti-freeze. I kid you not.
Also, I’m not vegetarian and have always felt vaguely guilty about that fact, therefore I avoid veal like the plague and look for meat products which state that the original animals that my pork chops were, at least had a relatively decent life before becoming my dinner. But it seems that cosy notion of self-righteous meat eating was wrong.
Apparently, when the label says ‘Outdoor Bred’, it should more accurately read, ‘We Showed This Pig A Field For About Five Minutes’. What the labelling doesn’t tell you, according to this show, is that Outdoor Bred can equate to animals being outdoors for as little as four weeks, so there goes my guilt-free meat eating… again.
The impact of this show was quite profound for me. For instance, big name labels I’ve trusted – such as M&S – may be big fat liars with their pants firmly on fire, or at best, they’re exaggerating or bending the truth about the food they sell, but I should hastily point out – before any writs are issued – they do so very much within the boundaries of the laws regarding labelling.
M&S in fact got a bit of a battering – no pun about my cod/catfish intended – in this show. And shock horror, if you’ve been blithely buying ‘Lochmuir’ salmon – and we do, to the tune of £300 million per year – and thinking this was an actual place, you would’ve been quite wrong. I imagined a tweed wearing fisherman whiling away heather strewn hours on the banks of Lochmuir, so I was surprised to hear that Lochmuir exists nowhere but in the creative brains of the marketing department.
Other shockers included the fact that bagged salads may have been washed in substances other than just plain old water, which had been my assumption. Again, wrong diddly wrong wrong. They may well have been washed in a cleaning agent laced with anti-freeze!
And when I buy ‘Class A’ eggs, I’d assumed I was buying the best eggs, but actually, Class B eggs cannot legally be sold, so calling them ‘Class A’ rather than ‘The Only Ones We Can Sell You’ is merely a marketing ploy.
And when I buy chicken, I kinda expect to be subsequently eating chicken but in fact, I may be eating the bones and skin of a multitude of animals, not just chicken. And, the original chicken, if indeed there is any in your chicken korma or other takeaway, was probably filled up with water during processing to make it fatter and more appealing.
Finally, the labelling on mince about its fat content just plain can’t be believed; when it says ‘lean mince’ you may in fact be consuming twice the amount of fat it says it contains.
This was a truly informative but stomach churning show. It really is shocking that the food industry as a whole is allowed to con us as it clearly does, so the answer to the show’s title, What’s Really In Our Food, is evidently, Who The Hell Knows, But Probably Hoof, Hide And Chemicals.
If you missed it, you can see it on iPlayer here, and it’s well worth a watch!