Thursday, 17 April 2014

A little pot of, err, sugar

Yesterday afternoon, my hopes were raised of a pleasant mouthful or two of free fodder by a notice in the office tea room saying that there were yogurts in the fridge and anyone could take one.
When I looked, they were gooseberry flavoured – hmmm, gooseberry.
But, my Homer Simpson moment over, I decided – being me – to risk looking a gift horse in the mouth and check the ingredients.
Sure enough, these “low fat” yogurts had a lengthy ingredient list – lengthy for a yogurt with fruit, anyway.
So, what does a Tesco low fat gooseberry yogurt contain?
The following is exactly as listed:
Yogurt (milk) 75%, Gooseberry 8%, Sugar, Glucose-fructose syrup, Gooseberry juice from concentrate (4%) modified maize starch, flavouring, Thickener (pectin), Nettle concentrate, Spinach concentrate, Curcuma concentrate
The last one is related to the spice turmeric.
In other words, as well as the natural sugars occurring in milk and the fruit, it had added sugar, added glucose-fructose syrup and added fruit juice – which, in concentrating fruit, increases the sugar content.
Y’know, just in case you want to train your sweet tooth.
Doubtless the spinach is there for colour, as may well be the case for the nettle too. Thickener is presumably required because the yogurt is left so insipidly thin after the fat is stripped out.
Heaven alone know why the addition of an extra, and somewhat mysterious, “flavouring” is required – doesn’t the gooseberry taste of anything? Or the fruit juice? And that’s without mentioning the nettle and spinach which presumably make some contribution to the overall taste.
And there’s enough sugar in a single, small pot to keep Willy Wonka happy. Of a 125g portion, 17.4% sugars, which is apparently 19% of your daily recommended allowance. In a tiny pot.
On the other hand, that same small pot has just 2.4g of fat – which is 3% of your RDA.
So remind me – this, by virtue of being “low fat”, is a healthy product, right?
Yogurt – healthy.
Fruit – healthy.
Low fat – healthy.
It’s that easy, although this is a perfect illustration of why people are confused.

And it should go without saying that Tesco is hardly the only company marketing in this way – it's a widespread issue.
On the other hand: take some fruit – rhubarb’s in season at this time of year – and cook it down gently with a little sugar and a small amount of water.
Decant into a sterilised container and allow to cool. Pop it in the fridge.
Take some plain, organic, full-fat yogurt with no additives.
Spoon some into a bowl. Add some of your fruit compote.
Consume with pleasure.
Oh, and I declined the offer.

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