CHOICE membership

Deceptive food labelling/ ingredients...Frozen meals..."Super Foods"

I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life and I rarely eat processed food…I mostly cook everything from scratch. I read labels and probably eat one frozen pre-packaged meal a year…and afterwards I always wonder why I bothered!

Tired, after a long day at work yesterday, I spotted “Super Foods” frozen dinner, by a company called “Super Nature”. https://goo.gl/photos/EMEV4QNiXdEwwcoz6.
I’m usually vigilant about reading ingredient lists, but I got lured by the packaging and the photos…

“Welcome to a revolution in healthy eating…bursting (note: “bursting”) with some of the healthiest, most natural ingredients around. We’re talking SUPERFOODS, loaded with nutrients to energise your body, fuel your brain, fight infection and help you stay lean for longer.” Enticing photos show chickpeas, yellow split peas, spinach, red lentils and sweet potato.

It wasn’t until after I had eaten this, and I was feeling super thirsty, that I properly read the ingredient list…flavour enhancers 627, 631…further investigation are that these are from the “glutamate” family and usually obtained from meat or seafood sources…not vegetarian as listed on the front of the pack and not very “natural” in my book. It certainly doesn’t fit in the “Super Food” chapter.
The Dhal sauce was listed with the ingredients: water, tomatoes (tomatoes 17%, food acid (330)), …so it appears the tomatoes listed were only made up of 17% tomatoes??? As for “bursting” with super foods…spinach at 3%, equates to 8.4gms, same for the sweet potato. There was no green to be seen when viewing the food.
There was a chapatti supplied with it (20% of the weight). This is a flat bread, yet the ingredients for it are not listed…surely it has flour in it?

Do these ingredient lists have to be approved? And what about these “healthy super food” claims…? As for “no artificial flavours and colours”…how are numbered flavour enhancers anything but artificial?

Very disappointed…more so in myself, for actually believing what I read.
And yes…I have emailed the company…

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Hi @Suzique, thanks for leaving a review here for us. It’s pretty hard trying to track down the source material for ingredients listed as a number, so good effort getting this far. Seeing as the Super Nature company has advertised the product as vegetarian, they are required to ensure that this is case. If you’re willing to share the info, we’d be interested to hear how the company responds.

In the meantime, I thought this article on surprising food additives might be of casual interest to the topic.

Hi @Suzique,

Whilst additive 627 (Sodium guanylate) can be derived from fish, is is commonly also from vegetable materials, namely yeasts and dried seaweed. If it is from dried seaweed/yeasts, then it can rightly be labelled suitable for vegetarian or vegans.

Whilst additive 631 (Disodium inosinate) is mostly made from meat products, it can also be derived from tapioca. If it is from tapioca, it can then be rightly labelled suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

In reality, if 627 and 631 (along with food acids or colours such as red from beetroots) are derived from natural sources and extracted/concentrated for use in food production, they could be called natural foods (or not artificial). Whilst, additives resulting from a chemical process in a chemical/food plant (such as many food colours, preservatives or imitation flavourings), would be artificial (not natural). Unfortunately there is a lot of marketing hype and also myths about what is natural and what is artificial.

They possibly are right in call these natural and not artificial, if they have come from and extracted/concentrated from natural sources. It is like Australian sugar from sugar cane being marketed as natural as it goes through similar process of extraction, concentration and refinement. Whilst I might not agree in principle, it is an established food production term.

Also, in reality, there is no such thing as a super food…as all fresh foods contain levels of nutrients, proteins, vitamins etc essential for human growth and health. Some foods may contain higher levels of one than another, but there is not such miracle super foods which are the panacea to the human body. I understand from my own reading that the term Super Foods was developed by marketing teams trying to give their foods a ‘competitive’ advantage. Programs like ‘Oprah’ and the internet have also been great avenues for marketing spin to become mainstream.

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That’s the truth, but food marketing departments everywhere are sure to disagree! :wink:

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There are kosher certified frozen foods available at some supermarkets. While they may not be any more nutritious and just as other processed food. At least if they say they are vegetarian they will not contain any meat products.

I recently had my doctor (me being of the older generation) advise me of the need to reduce my cholesterol and sugar levels after a couple of tests that she did. Following her advice (and my dieticians) I decided to check around and see what products were available to assist in this area and which ones would be more appropriate while still giving me a relatively free hand rather than going on a bland diet which would quickly come to a screaming halt because of its manifestly inadequate variety.
After searching around I quickly came to the conclusion that most food labelling (front of package) was not only puerile hyperbole but also that the claims they made were of a similar vein. Two examples of this can be seen when purchasing ‘low fat’ versus ‘regular’ yoghurt, while low fat yoghurt claims to have reduced fat content on the front of the package it is only when you read the back where the ingredients are that you are informed that there is significantly more sugar added to the product than what is in the regular one – a case of adding sugar to increase taste of low fat versions which is simple substitution of one ‘unhealthy’ food type for another. The second one is when I checked the labelling on ‘Flora’ margarines, which made claims of ‘Clinically Tested’.
While not all that derogatory of Clinical tests as such, the makers of ‘Flora’ margarines (Unilever) had stated on the packaging that to see the clinical tests you would need to go to their website (which I did). While the website does have a nice green citation at the bottom of the product page (1.Based on over 30 clinical studies) it does not allow you to actually access those studies or have any indications of who made those studies nor if they were done ‘in-house’ or ‘independently’.
Unlike a large percentage of products in places such as chemists, chemist warehouse etc. which have both the ‘Aust R’ and ‘Aust L’ labelling, claims for studies such as for Flora have none. A simple question is that should these products actually display the same type of labelling so that consumers can see if the studies conducted are in any way truthful (note that the Flora packaging also has the ‘tick’ of approval from the Heart Foundation, which really doesn’t have as much prestige as it used to have because of abuses by companies misrepresenting products) and should not the packaging of ‘low fat/high sugar’ content products come with a warning to those who may need to be more wary of such products (diabetics etc)?
Comments are welcome!

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UL’s UK site has it tucked away on the pages for professionals. It seems we plebes don’t need to be exposed to the complexities in Australia. We can always trust business to do the right thing according a some ideologies, people vote for that, and here we are…

“Clinically Tested”, what that means is that they tested it in a laboratory, it doesn’t mean it is effective.

Same as “Scientifically Tested” it just means it was tested scientifically but not that it was effective.

Even a phrase such as “scientifically tested for effective relief” does not mean it gave effective relief, all it means is it was tested to see if it provided effective relief.

These and similar phrases are used a lot with things like cosmetics, and over the counter remedies.

Beware these throw away phrases! Maybe one for Choice to look into.

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Hi @Suzique,
Thank you for your feedback!
The flavour enhancers the Split Pea Lentil Dhal meal are Disodium Guanylate and Inosinate (627 and 631)- these ingredients are extracted from natural sbyources and are considered as natural in accordance to the Australian Food Standards Code. These would be from plant based sources as the product is vegetarian.

We’re happy to let you know that none of our we’ve heard customers like you and the meal has been reformulated so it’s now vegan-friendly do not contain 627 and 631. Our newest meals like our Super Nature Wellness Bowls and Super Pulses also do not include these ingredients as well.