9 Deceiving Facts About the Food Industry

Eating healthy is always a good thing but don’t be fooled by food companies that use marketing or loopholes to trick you into thinking something is healthy when it actually isn’t. Before the 1950’s the average consumer wasn’t much concerned about the nutrition of their food. However, in the 1960’s companies started to notice consumers taking notice of what they eat. Let’s visit the top 9 Deceiving Facts the food industry doesn’t want you to know.

9. Sugar Free Products

It’s easy to blame sugar as the cause for the rapid increase in the countries obesity problem. However, the truth is we need sugar in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The biggest trick the food industry uses to say a product is sugar free has to do with chemicals. Sugar free sweeteners are some of the most toxic things we can consume and have been linked in an array of troubling health conditions. Look for products that use natural, unprocessed sugars like maple syrup or honey and avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

8. Trans Fats

The US FDA’s guidelines state that any food product with an amount of fat under 0.5g per serving can be listed as 0g on the packaging. If you take a look at a lot of frozen and prepackaged foods you’ll see they print “0g Trans Fat” in bold on the front of their products. Simply look at the nutrition panel to see the ingredients to get the bigger picture. If they list any type of hydrogenated oil you can be sure this product will fail lab testing for 0% trans fat.

7. Serving Sizes

The easiest way for any food product to look healthier is by manipulating the serving sizes on the nutrition facts panel. If the item is something that most people would consume during one sitting logic says this is one serving. However, it’s not uncommon to find more and more companies decreasing serving sizes because they count on you not noticing. If the item says “servings per container: 3” you have to then multiple each listed nutritional fact item by 3!

6. Luxury Labeling

Would you pay more for a Mercedes than a Honda? Food companies know you would so they spend a lot of money on fancy packaging and marketing to turn that $2 can of spaghetti sauce into a $6 jar. The easiest way to ensure your money is going into a quality product is by comparing the ingredients on two similar items.

5. Peaches

Peaches easily bruise and are a favorite fruit of insects. This is why companies soak them in chemicals before shipping them to your local grocery store. It’s always a smart idea to purchase only organic produce but if you can’t make sure you wash these items aggressively before consuming them.

4. Defects

The US FDA has guidelines for unavoidable defects in food items, which they claim present no health hazards for humans. Taken straight from their handbook, canned mushrooms are allowed to contain 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams and golden raisins can contain an average of 1,250 or more insect fragments per 10 grams.

3. Aluminum Cans & Plastic Bottles

The chemical known as bisphenol A (BPA) is used to provide an anti-septic function to the food products it contains. Studies have shown BPA puts children and adolescents at greater risk of heart and kidney disease. The US FDA has since banned the chemical in food packaging but this hasn’t stopped companies whom make aluminum cans. In order to avoid BPA and other dangerous chemicals, choose glass whenever possible.

2. Ground Beef

Ground beef is made by gathering waste trimmings from multiple cuts of beef. It is then exposed to low heat so the fat can separate and finally sent through pipes to be treated with ammonia gasses. The US FDA allows beef products to be treated with ammonia to “clean” the meat from bacteria. Small batch and local beef producers follow different guidelines. Try to purchase meat locally when possible, from responsible organic farmers.

1. Bugs

The cochineal is a scale insect that produces carminic acid which is used to make food coloring. The bugs themselves are actually crushed to produce a vibrant red color used in food items most famously Starbucks Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino a few years back. Cochineals are considered safe for food consumption; however, many may be disgusted and concerned about eating a living thing.

Rewarding Career in Food Production

The food industry is a fast growing segment all over the world. The main reason for this is that new technology has made it possible for perishable items to be preserved and transported at a larger distance. Apart from this logistics have improved considerably and import and export facilities are being enhanced in real-time. This basically means that a company manufacturing chocolate in Switzerland can actually cover the globe with their presence through a distribution network based on a local and regional level in each country.

This expansive network requires the support of trained individuals who actually know what the requirements of a food production job are. If you are considering a career in the food production sector or perhaps have been involved in it previously, a good idea is to look at a job portal that specializes in food production jobs. For a fresh candidate this will give you an insight into the vast opportunities available in food production on a global and local level. For an experienced candidate you will actually be able to see a consolidated food of opportunities available in your area of specialization. This essentially means that you can look at a new opportunity that matches your credentials and concentrate on building a rewarding career in food production.

Career Options In Food Production Jobs

By looking at different career options in this sector you can find people who specialize in shift management to see how the inventory is being processed and managed by the production staff. Apart from this there is an opportunity to work as a production planner. This basically means that you will have to have an idea of the sales target of the company and manage resources that are utilized in planning the production of a particular FMCG product. You will have to concentrate on evaluating how much of inventory you will require to match distribution and sales targets.

Quality assurance is another spectrum that falls in the category of food production jobs. As a quality assurance manager you will be provided standards and guidelines on what the basic requirements are for the product that your company manufactures. Based on these guidelines you will be able to see that the production of the inventory matches the quality requirements in terms of product quality, packaging quality and condition it is delivered in to the market. Apart from this you will be required to manage quality complaints that may arise from the consumer or distributor end.

With this unique spectrum of job opportunities, it is no wonder that food production jobs are highly sought after. It is therefore a wise idea to look at an online job portal that provides you specific information on food jobs. This means that your job search will be concentrated on your industry of choice and make this endeavor very efficient.

The Meaning Behind Food Product Dates and How Useful Are They to the Consumer

Except for infant formula and some baby food, product dating is not generally required by U.S. Federal regulations. There is also no universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States. Although dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states, there are areas of the U.S where much of the food supply has some type of date, and other areas where almost no food is dated.

Dates on packaged foods alert the consumer, the store and the manufacturer as to the quality of the food product. These dates are not safety dates and do not automatically mean the product is no longer safe or is spoiled in some way. After the date passes, the product should still be safe if it was handled properly, although the longer you keep it after that date, the greater possibility of spoilage.
If the package does have a date it will most likely have one of the following:

o “Sell-By” date tells the store the last day the product should be offered for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires and only hold it for two or three days beyond this date if it is well refrigerated.

o “Best if Used By (or Before)” and “Best Before End” date is directed at the consumer by the manufacture guaranteeing the best freshness, quality, flavor etc.

o “Use-By” date is directed at the consumer and is the last date recommended for use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer, packer or distributor of the product.

o “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers used by the manufacturer. These codes, which appear as a series of letters and/or numbers, might refer to the date or time of manufacture. They aren’t meant for the consumer to interpret as “use-by” dates. There is no book that tells how to translate the codes into dates.

o “Packed on” dates are sometimes found on canned and frozen food. This date indicates the packaging date and is generally not useful for the consumer.

o “Expiration” or “Exp” is the last date on which a product should be used – similar to the “Use By” date.

Even though products may still be useable after the date, I still recommend not purchasing or using any food product that has passed its “Use by'” or “Sell by” date. The manufacturer actually does not want you too either. They want you to continue purchasing their product and if you have a bad or less than expected experience then there is a good chance you are not going to buy that product again.

If you must use or consume the product for whatever reason, just examine the food closely, using all your senses in the following order (this is assuming the packaging is still intact and has not been damaged, dented or bloated in any way):

1. Does the product look good or normal? No abnormal colors, growth, fluids or coating of some unusual matter.

2. Does the product smell out of the ordinary or just spoiled?

3. If it passes the first 2 tests, then lastly taste a small portion (assuming the product is not a raw meat, poultry, seafood or other product that requires cooking first). Is there any out of the ordinary flavor or sharp or strong taste that is not normally present?

If any of these out of the ordinary characteristics are present, then by all means dispose of the product in a safe manner – wrapped up tightly for disposal so others will not be able to get to it.

Food Production Still Depends Too Heavily On Oil

Oil and petroleum products play a major part in every aspect of food production from synthetic fertiliser and pesticide production through processing and packaging right to final delivery in the shops.

The industry is one of the biggest users of fossil fuels and therefore is often at the mercy of fluctuations in oil and petrol prices as well as being both energy inefficient and unsustainable as reserves of oil in the world are gradually being depleted.

It is calculated that it takes more than 400 gallons of oil to feed one person for a year in the USA. Approximately a third of this goes to the manufacture of fertilisers, while another fifth is used in farm machinery. Add in the costs of the machinery that processes and packages the food and the transportation costs to the point of sale and these together explain that figure of 400 gallons per person per year.

In terms of energy conversion this food production system means that it takes three calories of energy for every single calorie of edible food produced on average. The difference when this calculation is applied to grain-fed beef is an astonishing 35 calories of energy for every one calorie of beef. Both these figures exclude the additional cost of energy input involved in food processing and transportation.

Those who advocate sustainable and organic farming point out that it is the industrial system of food production that accounts for what is argued to be such an inefficient use of energy.

The chief culprit, they say, is the amount of energy that goes into producing artificial fertilisers and pesticides, derived from such things as nitrogen or natural gas. It is calculated that as much as 40% of the energy that goes into the food production system goes into this part of the process.

It is also argued that the need for these products is precisely because of the structure of the food production system, both meat and vegetables, which have become increasingly produced in concentrated and specific areas of many countries.

Over time, such concentrated activity has depleted the nutrition of the soil, damaged ecosystems and polluted water supplies. There have also been increasing concerns about the long-term effects on human health of the residues of such chemicals in food.

Systems such as integrated pest management, organic farming and the use of more natural, low-chemical agricultural products are part of moving to more sustainable farming methods.

Using natural sources for biopesticides, yield enhancers and biofungicides can protect the land and crops and increase crop yields while leaving little or no residue in the food produced and this is the focus of the research and products being developed by biopesticides developers.

Such low-chem agricultural products are gradually replacing the older generation of artificial fertilisers and pesticides which are being withdrawn or phased out by many governments around the world. However, the process of getting this new, healthier generation of products tested, registered and licensed is both costly and lengthy. The process has also not so far been harmonised across the world and the need to do so is becoming increasingly urgent.

Other measures to reduce the energy inefficiency in food production include buying locally and organically produced food as well as reducing the amount of packaging used. While plainly consumers can take action about what they buy for themselves, they can also pressure the bigger food store chains to source more locally as well as to cut back on packaging.

Copyright (c) 2011 Alison Withers