Friday, 2 October 2015

belvita soft bakes

I saw the adverts for Belvita soft bakes recently so I thought I would try them. At the top of the pack it says 'slow release carbohydrates' with an asterisk and '4h' which I guess stands for '4 hours'. The asterisk refers to the statement 'belVita Soft Bakes with proven slow release carbohydrate ...'.

On the other side of the pack it states 'Energy for the whole morning' with two asterisks. They refer to the statement 'belVita Soft Bakes have a high content of slowly digestible starch, which is a slow release carbohydrate. Consumption of foods high is slowly digestible starch raises blood glucose concentration less after a meal compared to foods low in slowly digestible starch.'

If you look at Nutritional Information there are three asterisks that refer to the statement 'Contains minimum 15 g Slowly Digestible Starch per 100 g.' You would think that all this would mean that this product has a low glycemic index (GI). However, if you look at the list of ingredients on the base of the pack it contains sugar, glucose syrup, dextrose and  isomaltulose (a source of glucose and fructose).

From a list of ingredients it's difficult to know how much of these sugars go into the product. If we go back to Nutritional Information however, each 100 g of the product contains 21 g of sugars (for the Choc Chips version). Compare that to 0.8 g of sugars per 100 g of Sainsbury's rough oatcakes, which have no added sugars at all.

There's something seriously wrong here. Just because a product contains some ingredients which will be low GI, it doesn't mean that the product itself is low GI. The addition of these sugars means that it's not going to be low GI. No mention is made of GI on the box, so I expect they would say that they are not making the claim that they are low GI. But that is what they seem to want people to believe. Also, the 'traffic light' label isn't colour coded as with other products so you can't tell at a glance if it's high in sugars.

Oatcakes are much cheaper than soft bakes and seem to be a genuinely low GI product. Oatcakes would raise blood glucose concentrations less after consuming them, but that cannot be true of soft bakes. This will increase someone's risk of developing diabetes. It can also increase risk of obesity because people will feel hungrier sooner and more likely to want to snack. People are being misled in matters concerning their health and I think that's wrong.

We know from the recent Volkswagen scandal that big companies are happy to mislead the public. This shouldn't be happening. It's like Marks and Spencer who had a range of ready meals that they called 'Fuller Longer'. I have copied-and-pasted from here.

"In 2010, Marks & Spencer launched their ‘Fuller Longer’ range of products, where each dish is designed to contain the right balance of proteins and carbohydrates to increase satiety and therefore reduce the desire to snack in-between meals. Consumers certainly bought into the concept, with it being a big seller for Marks & Spencer.
However, it has now emerged that Marks & Spencer have been asked to change the title of their range, in light of Trading Standards discovering that they are in breach of EU law on health claims.
Health and nutrition claims are perhaps a point of confusion for many brand marketers. They know that health statements sell products but they are perhaps unaware of the legal red tape that surrounds their use. Under EU law, a health claim must be authorised by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and included in the list of authorised health claims in the EU Register before they can be used. Nutrition claims on the other hand, can only be used if they are listed in the Annex of the EU Regulation and meet the specific conditions stipulated."
What Marks and Spencer could have done is to remove all the added sugars from this range. They were all savoury dishes but they all contained added sugar. The could have taken out the high GI starches and replaced them with low GI starches. Long-grain rice could have replaced short-grain rice. New potatoes could have replaced ordinary potatoes. But they didn't want to do that.

Instead they left the ingredients the same as before but just rebranded the range 'Balanced for You'. Which doesn't mean anything nutritionally. Having a more meaningless name gets them off the legal hook. This has decreased my respect for M&S. They just want to cash in on a premium range of foods by confusing people about their health.