French group lists 100 ‘toxic’ shopping items

After raising concerns about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes a consumer group turned its attention this week to raising awareness of everyday products found in French supermarkets it claims contain “toxic substances”.

French group lists 100 'toxic' shopping items
100 everyday products in French supermarkets found to have "toxic substances". Photo: polycart/flickr

Earlier this week the French organisation “60 million Consumers” kicked up a storm by claiming electronic cigarettes were “potentially carcinogenic” because of the vapour they use.

Now the group wants to raise awareness of the potential dangers of products most of us consume on a daily basis.

From Tuc biscuits, to Coca Cola and from toothpaste to chewing gum "60 million Consumers"has come up with a list of 100 supermarket items whose contents we should be aware of.

“These hazardous substances poison our daily lives,” claim the organisation in the September issue of its magazine.

Among the 100 products the magazine claims contain toxic substances are Kellogg’s chocolate bars, Balsamic vinegar, Maggi soups Hollywood or Mentos chewing gum.

The rogue ingredients include the colouring E150D, sodium sulphite, azo dyes and BHA.

E150d was classified as “possibly carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and since January 2012, California has tried to limit its use.

60 million Consumers notes that sodium sulphite is a preservative that can cause headaches, itching or difficulty breathing and azo dyes, may give a bright colouring to food, but they also cause allergies and can be carcinogenic.

“Many confectionary brands have chosen to substitute natural dyes,” claims the magazine.

60 million Consumers also highlighted the dangers of certain beauty products including baby wipes, tooth paste, foundation and moisturizer.

The issue with these products is that they contain parabens, preservatives that are believed to harm the hormonal system and Triclosan, an antibacterial agent that if used frequently can lead to resistance to anti-biotics.

It the same as “60 million Consumers” published their report in their magazine another French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir also produced a list of items we use in our daily lives that at potentially dangerous.

Among the items, found to present a risk to the public’s health were lap top covers, which contained “no less than four different substances that caused concern”.

The coating on several school back packs were found to contain a toxic plastic softener that is banned from any products designed for children.

Certain babies bibs were also found to contain a toxic flame retardant, which is now banned.

The problem for the public, the organisation says, is that the presence of these products are never mentioned by the manufacturers.

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France crowns its favourite store (but have you heard of it?)

The French have selected their favourite store and it's a supermarket that many readers might not have heard of, but our readers have voted it the best in France.

France crowns its favourite store (but have you heard of it?)
Photo: AFP
France's 2018 store of choice is a supermarket known for selling regional products sold by local, independent businesses, in a market setting. 
This year, the title of France's favourite store went to Grand Frais, a French supermarket with 216 stores around the country, as it dethroned sporting goods retailer Decathlon in the annual ranking by consultancy firm OC&C. 
Decathlon dropped to second place followed by cultural goods shop Cultura, frozen foods store Picard and Fnac, a French retail chain selling cultural and electronic products, making up the top five spots. 
Another supermarket that made the top ten was Leclerc which came 8th while Swedish furniture giant Ikea came tenth. 
And, according to OC&C, this year's survey highlights an interesting consumer trend. 

Readers' tips: Which supermarket in France is the best to shop at?

“The e-commerce platforms are losing ground to more traditional brands, which have often…improved their value for money,” David de Matteis, Managing Partner at OC&C Strategy told Le Figaro
Trust and closeness between the brand and the customer seems to have taken an important place in the 2018 ranking, he added.
This trend aligns with the Grand Frais strategy which spotlights local producers in a more traditional market setting. And it isn't only the French who have fallen for its charms. 
In fact, in a recent readers' tips feature by The Local, Grand Frais was selected as the best supermarket in France
Photo: Lionel Allorge/Wikicommons
Sarah Ashley who runs the Cooking in France Together group on Facebook said her favourite supermarket in France was “Grand Frais by a mile. It's a shame there aren't more of them.
“[It has] the freshest fruit and veg, more exotic choices and friendly, helpful staff. I love how they sell things you just don't get in other supermarkets, like beautiful chilies, almonds still in their green skin and veggies so exotic I have never heard of them before. It is always well stocked and sparkling clean.”
Another fan of Grand Frais, Jiouxleigh Kos also highlighted the wide selection available there. 
“Grand Frais has the best selection of fresh and more exotic food,” she said.
However, due to the fact that there are relatively few branches of Grand Frais, some of those who chose it as their favourite supermarket in France also pointed out that it was often somewhere they went as a treat or “to find something out of the ordinary”. 
With just 216 Grand Frais supermarkets in France (and one in Belgium), there's some luck involved in whether there's one conveniently located near where you live (see map above). 
For those living in Paris, there is no Grand Frais in the French capital however there is one in Fresnes in the southern suburbs.