I am used to politicians, financiers and business leaders abusing language to deceive us into believing things that are somewhat less than the truth.
But I had not realised that the food industry was one of the prime culprits until I started reading some articles by the excellent Joanna Blythman.
I suppose I should have realised that the food industry had more reason than most to mislead its customers – not least because I did highlight in an earlier blog the rather embarrassing television appearance of Barbara Gallani from the food and drink federation – https://deceivingus.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/more-trade-association-deceits-about-sugar/
But Blythman has certainly focused my mind on this sector. In the Daily Telgraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinkadvice/11458409/From-rosemary-extract-to-sugar-syrup-the-new-food-label-nasties.html – she points out how “the wholesome-sounding ingredients that have replaced E numbers in processed foods are a lot less natural than we like to think.”
These ingredients include black radish extract, tapioca starch, carrot concentrate, roasted barley malt extract, cultured corn syrup, rosemary extract, rice extract and caramelised sugar syrup.
Doesn’t it add further proof to my thesis that people with power use words that are technically true to deceive and leave an image that is actually false.
In another article – http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/the-big-fresh-food-con-alarming-truth-behind-the-chocolate-muffin-that-wont-decay-10089292.html – Bythman explains that we are all eating food that is older than it seems.
Read her article to understand exactly what the industry is doing. I just want to note – as always – the abuse of language. The food is referred to as “fresh-like” – as appalling an abuse of English meaning as it is possible to get. And there is the wonderful phrase “modified atmosphere packaging” which helps extend sell by days – though you wouldn’t get that meaning from the words.
And we are all left in an absurd position when we buy our food. We are sold products that have had their sell by dates extended by artificial processes. But we cannot buy ingredients that are perfectly edible because they are either the wrong shape or have passed an arbitrarily imposed sell by date.
The reason is simple. The mark up on products is higher so they want to keep them as long as possible.
In any language, that is nonsense. But if you doubt me, read Blythman whose arguments are totally convincing.