A new campaign by French food watchdog Foodwatch “Scam on the Label” shows that despite our best efforts to pay attention to where our food comes from and find out whether it's good for us, we might be being thwarted due to misleading packaging.
The campaign, which focuses on ingredients people are likely to put in salads, such as raw vegetables, fruits and pre-prepared meats, exposes ten food “scams of the summer”.
While most are related to the origin of the foods, some of these “scams” are linked to deceptive ingredients lists.
“This campaign is there to denounce them [these brands],” says Mégane Ghorbani, campaign manager at Foodwatch.
Mixed raw vegetables: white cabbage, carrot and celery (Florette)
According to the food watchdog, “The French flag and 'prepared in France' label is misleading”. While some of the ingredients come from France, Florette also sources ingredients in Spain and Great Britain.
The problem with this is that 8 out of ten consumers are willing to fork out more for food made in France, said Foodwatch.
Dried Cranberries (Ocean Spray)
You might think you're choosing the healthy option by adding dried cranberries to your meal but be warned — you may be consuming more sugar than you think.
According to Foodwatch, Ocean Spray adds extra sugar to its dried cranberries which — on top of what is already contained in the fruit — means that each packet is made up of 74 percent sugar.
100% traditionally smoked chicken using beech wood (Knacki Herta)
Chicken, of course. But what part? According to the association, the meat of these sausages consists of “75% chicken skin and mechanically separated meat – scraped off the carcass of the poultry”. And to perfect the mixture, sodium nitrite, a controversial additive.
Pitted green olives from Provence in Herbes de Provence (Tropic Apéro en Provence)
While you'd be forgiven for thinking that these olives are about as Provencal as it gets, considering it is written no fewer than three times on the packaging, according to Foodwatch, only the Herbes de Provence actually come from this area of France, which means a measly 0.1 percent of the product.
Organic smoked bacon sticks – 25 percent salt (Fleury Michon)
Don't be fooled by the “organic” label on the packet — it doesn't mean the bacon is healthier, says Foodwatch.
In fact, according to the watchdog it could even be worse for you, with a higher level of salt and more saturated fat contained in the organic range.
You might have picked yourself up a nice Charentais melon but — somewhat confusingly — that doesn't necessarily mean it's come from Charente.
The name, according to Foodwatch is purely commercial and is no guarantee of the origin of the fruit.
Charentais melon. Photo: Neal Ziring/Wikicommons
White mushrooms from Paris
… and the same goes for white mushrooms from Paris.
Light vinaigrette made in Dijon (Amora)
Mustard accounts for just 0.7 of this recipe and Foodwatch says that these mustard seeds are not necessarily of French origin.
Meat from Grisons (Aoste)
The packaging might say this meat comes from “the heart of Grisons in Switzerland” but the beef used by Aoste is labeled “EU or non-EU” so there's no real guarantee of its origin.
Lobster sticks (Coraya)
This might well be the most shocking of the bunch.
According to Foodwatch, these lobster sticks do not contain any trace of lobster but do contain a controversial additive called glutamate.
As a result, on Tuesday an online petition, which has so far garnered over 10,000 signatures, was set up against this product.