Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2.......Industry Always Eyes The Bottomline

     The Fast Food Industry has endured a lot of controversy – inhumane treatment of animals, using leftover animal parts in certain menu items, etc. These have not made any dent in their sales. If anything, business is booming going by the queues in local fast food joints. 

Smellvertising:  Ever walked past a fast food place and been drawn in by the aromas that waft out? Not only fast food chains but even bakeries and restaurants resort to deliberately dispersing the aromas of their kitchen to the area outside.      This aroma triggers cravings and hunger pangs, leading to more walk-ins and greater sales. 

Non-food ingredients:  Food chains in the West have been accused of including some pretty strange non-food ingredients – sand, wood, duck feathers, animal bones and hooves, beetle juice and fertilizer! All are suitably modified and used to impart specific textures and properties to ‘food’. How far this may be the case in India is debatable but given that most global food chains have outlets in our country (and we don’t have a reliable monitoring body for food safety) -these may be the norm here as well.

Doubtful Quality: The Food Processing and Manufacturing Industry is equally lax about public health when it comes to profits for their companies. Apart from failure to list certain ingredients or making misleading health claims, they may be using inferior quality ingredients to start with. Processed food products have undergone some form of chemical processing and also contain a cornucopia of chemicals to impart desirable properties to increase acceptability (and addiction). The burden of dealing with these sometimes toxic, synthetic substances then falls on our livers.

Lack of Social Responsibility: Let's not even go into the subject of how they pollute the environment, exploit resources and short change the farmers. Not every food company out there is harmful but most just do what is legally required. Most MNC food companies especially are more ruthless in these cases. Not only do they follow practices (here in India and other developing countries) that are banned in their country of origin, they may also be using imported genetically modified foods.

Look Twice: Ever looked at a nutrition label or a health claim and chosen a product? That's just what they want ... so that you'll believe these inaccurate descriptions and contribute to their profits. (Refer my earlier post on Nutrition Labels)

Mirages: Both of the above industries also indulge in heavy advertising to make it seem that their products are safe, tasty and even healthy. These ads are targeted mainly at children who can influence food-related decision making at home. But that’s a topic for another post.

Here's a screenshot of the article in the magazine listing Zero Nutrition Foods:

This article was published in Parent Circle, March, 2013

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