Our trip to the big town the other day has certainly brought to light some interesting labelling procedures.
Littletree's friend Miss J was out with us for the day - and I am happy to report that she scored a great haul at the oppies, going home with a whole new outfit and shoes. When she announced that she felt hungry and wanted a snack, I suggested we just nip up to the supermarket on the corner. We needed bread, so I found that, and then asked Miss J to just find the nearest suitable snack. It happened that we were right by the section with tinned fruits and all those little snack packets that involve fruit to some degree. Miss J picked out some jelly-fruity thing that you suck out of a plastic packet. We asked Littletree if she wanted one, and the clever girl! - she asked straight away "Does it have chemicals in it?" Miss J dutifully read out the ingredients, I assured Littletree that they sounded okay to me, and she accepted.
Then we were heading straight for the checkout when we went past the 'health food' section - the bit where they have packets of nuts and seeds and gluten-free things. I noticed some biscuits on special, and grabbed a pack.
Sorry about the blinding flash on that shot. The brand is Macro, which is owned by Woolworths, and the biscuits are described as a 'recipe without nuts' - White Chocolate & Berry Macaroon.
None of thought to check the ingredients - not even the extremely vigilant Littletree. We just accepted that it was 'healthy' because it was in the 'health food' section. Yes, I should know better by now. Well if I'd needed another eye-opener, I'd found it.
Finally, Majikfaerie actually looked a little further at the packet. She read out the ingredients, and shocked us all right out of our socks.
Coconut (preservative (223)), sugar, wheat flour, white chocolate chips (10%) (sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter (29.5%), milkfat (9%), vegetable emulsifier (322 from soy), glucose, mixed berry pieces (7%) (strawberry puree (23%), blackcurrant puree (9%), raspberry puree (4%), blueberry puree (4%), invert sugar, humectant (glycerol), sugar, wheat fibre, gelling agent (440), acidity regulator (296), natural flavours (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry)), margarine (animal fat (tallow from beef or sheep), water, emulsifiers (471,322 from soy, 435), flavour, acidity regulator (270)), currants, egg powder, whey powder (milk), natural flavours (vanilla, coconut), raising agents (500,450).
Did you notice that? Other than all the numbers. I won't even start on those. I mean the TALLOW FROM BEEF OR SHEEP. Can you believe it? Coconut biscuits that are NOT SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS. Macro is supposed to be a brand that creates choices for those with dietary restrictions, but apparently they haven't noticed that a large number of health-concious people are, in fact, vegetarian.
If you happen to be one of those people who have a serious nut allergy, or a child with such, you might have been feeling reassured by the prominent 'RECIPE WITHOUT NUTS' claim - unless you made it to the fine print to discover that 'this product has been manufactured in a peanut and tree nut free facility. Whilst we have strict protocols in place and have tested for peanuts and tree nuts where possible, the raw ingredients in this product cannot be guaranteed totally peanut and tree nut free due to limitations in current testing technologies.'
I checked the Woolworths website to see if I could find out anything more about these biscuits, or about this whole nut-free gimmick, but I couldn't, because, according to the website, these biscuits do not exist. I tried every permutation of words on the label in the Woolworths search engine, only to be told repeatedly that no products match the description I had given. I did discover this claim about the Macro brand - "Woolworths are proud to bring the Macro Wholefoods Market product
range to families and health conscious shoppers. Macro Wholefoods offer
great tasting, nutritionally sound and quality products at an affordable
price. Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are kept to a minimum without compromising on taste."
Oh, really? Back to the label. Just ONE of these biscuits contains 11% the daily RDI (recommended daily intake) of saturated fats, and 9% the daily RDI of sugar... and who ever eats just ONE biscuit, right?
So, we've got allegedly nut-free sweet biscuits that can't be guaranteed to be nut-free and are not suitable for vegetarians. Woolworths is happy to put them on their shelves but not to admit their existance on their website.
Nobody felt hungry anymore.