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Watchdog warns French consumers about the dangers of their beloved yoghurt

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Watchdog warns French consumers about the dangers of their beloved yoghurt
Photo: AFP
15:17 CEST+02:00
Yoghurt, as anyone who has seen the impressive rows of dairy products in French supermarkets will have deduced, is a staple of the French diet and is often flaunted for its health benefits. But perhaps not for much longer.

Industrially-produced yoghurts may be bad for your health because of the number of food additives they contain, a leading French consumer watchdog has warned. 

In a new report entitled “Foods that are poisoning us”, ‘60 millions de consommateurs’ scanned 100 different foods sold in French supermarkets for their sugar, fat, salt, nitrates, additives and pesticides content, with some sobering results.

“Despite all the talk by the big food brands about healthy eating, junk food is still very much around. Processed foods are all over the shelves,” the watchdog said. “Even yoghourts haven’t been spared from the additive onslaught.”

Putting additives in yoghurt however is strictly forbidden in France. 

According to a 1988 law, only flavouring and sugar or other foodstuffs “giving a specific flavour and amounting to no more than 30% of the weight of the yoghurt can be added”, the report explained.

“Everything that isn’t mentioned [in that law] is banned. Since additives are not foodstuffs, they are forbidden too,” the report said. 

“But the dairy industry has found a way around this by making up its own rules. It adds colouring, sweeteners and other ‘additives’ in mixtures added to the yoghurts”.

The report cites a brand of yoghurt with a fruit compote as an example, which it found contained 12 food additives.

“The industry get round it by saying that the additives are added to the fruit mix, not to the yoghurt itself. This scam alters a food that is supposed to be simple and good for you. Consumers are deceived. It’s unacceptable,” the watchdog deplored..

On average, French people eat 150 pots of yoghurt per person a year. 

Up until the middle of the 20th century, they were largely made by farmers and small-scale producers but after the 1960s, dairy companies such as Danone, the world’s largest yoghurt maker, took over the market. 

Today, after the Swiss food giant Nestle, French dairy food companies Danone and Lactalis rank as the world’s largest.

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