French urged to follow perfect diet and there’s no room for saucisson

France's health watchdog has revealed the "perfect French diet" - and it's not pretty reading for fans of charcuterie or raclette.

French urged to follow perfect diet and there's no room for saucisson
Photo: Edsel Little/Flickr

Saucisson, red meat, and ham are pillars of the French cuisine and one of the delights of living in France for pretty much anyone who's not a vegetarian

And tucking into a “planche mixte” – a board of various processed meats and cheeses (fromage and charcuterie) – is a highlight of the Paris dining scene.

But if the French take the advice of a new health report, this culinary tradition may soon go out the window.

Indeed, national authorities are urging French people to swap pork and beef for pulses and beans with the new diet, which gives the red card to several French staples.

Using a computer algorithm, the French national agency of food and health safety ANSES has created what they called the perfect French diet, which would cover the nutritional needs of 97.5 percent of France’s population.

It then compared this ideal diet to the one actually eaten by French people, and the results didn’t look so good for the traditional French cuisine. 

They found that French people aren’t putting enough pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas etc.) on their plates, and are wolfing down too much red meat and salty charcuterie.

READ ALSO: The Gallic grub that's surprisingly healthy

Photo: Marianne Casamance/WikiCommons

The guidelines recommend no more than 500g of red meat per week (around five portions), eating fish twice a week, and eating a maximum of 25g of charcuterie.

ANSES stressed the “necessity to considerably reduce” French consumption of charcuterie, which includes bacon, ham, sausages, pâtés and confits.

Getting the French to eat less saucisson will be a tough battle to win for the agency, apparently the French munch down 2.2 kilos of saucisson each second, which adds up to a total of 70,000 tonnes a year.

This is not the first attack on saucisson by a health organisation. In October 2015 the World Health Organisation labelled classic Gallic grub like saucisson and jambon as carcinogenic.

That provoked an angry response from some locals.

An 83-year-old Frenchman told The Local that he had survived far worse than an overdose of charcuterie so he wasn't going to stop eating meat just because the health boffins at the WHO say so.

“I survived World War Two and that didn't kill me, so to hell with what they say,” said the veteran who asked not to be named.

The new ANSES guidelines also repeated the old adage of eating at least five fruit and vegetables a day.

ANSES also advised drinking only one glass of sugary drink a day as figures show that sugar in liquid form has a tendency to increase the overall energy content. And that includes the vast array of fruit juices that the French love. 

No need to despair if you love French food, there's some Gallic grub that is particularly good for you.

by Rose Trigg

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Diet guru Dukan banned over ‘deadly’ pill

French diet king Pierre Dukan has been given a ban and heavily criticized by France’s medical board for prescribing weight-loss pill Mediator, which has been linked to hundreds of deaths, to his patients and then lying about it, it emerged this week.

Diet guru Dukan banned over 'deadly' pill
French diet guru Dr. Pierre Dukan. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is believed to have used his diet to get into shape for her 2011 wedding. Photos: Eric Piermont/Carl de Souza/AFP

Dr. Dukan, a former GP whose diet regime has gained both success and notoriety in the last decade, was last week given an eight-day ban from practicing medicine by France’s national medical board, his lawyer told French daily Le Figaro on Monday.

The board found Dukan guilty of a “breach of ethical regulations” after he prescribed Mediator, a diet pill linked to hundreds of deaths, on five separate occasions, and then lied about it.

“In resorting to untruthful assertions, Dr. Dukan demonstrated behaviour which lacked probity and discredits the profession,” said the medical board in its ruling.

Dukan, 72, was also ordered to pay €6,000 in damages to a former patient who developed heart problems in the early 1970s to whom he prescribed Mediator, even though the drug was only intended to treat diabetes.

Mediator has been at the centre of a major medical scandal in France since it was pulled off the market in 2009 after evidence emerged that it had caused hundreds of deaths due to damage to heart valves.

Jacques Servier, the now 90-year-old founder of the Servier bio-pharmaceutical company which produced the drug, is currently on trial in Nanterres, France, for “aggravated fraud.”

Mediator was never authorized in the UK or US.

The Dukan diet, launched in 2000 in France, has had significant global success since being translated into English in recent years, and was reportedly the diet of choice of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton in the run-up to her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

The diet, however, has also attracted widespread criticism from medical experts. In November 2012, the British Dietetic Association ranked the Dukan diet number one in its list of “The Five Worst Celebrity Diets to Avoid,” saying “There is little solid science behind this.”

“This diet is so confusing, time consuming, very rigid and, in our opinion, so very hard to sustain,” the BDA added. 

This is not the first time Dukan has landed in trouble with medical authorities in France. In 2012 France's College of Physicians lodged a complaint against him after it accused him of breaching the ethics code when he suggested schoolchildren's grades should be bumped up if they manage to maintain a healthy weight.

The idea was included in a book brought out by Dukan in January last year.

At the book's launch he said: “There is nothing unhealthy about educating youngsters about nutrition.

“My idea would change nothing for those who have no need to get thinner. But for those who do, it would only motivate them to lose weight.”