The strong influence of food industry funding on research and researchers of nutrition came into notice that threatens trustworthiness of science and nutrition specialists. Several research work is sponsored by food industry just for their personal benefits so that public may lose faith in various basic dietary advices. Now, unravelling the lies the food industry is feeding you is really very essential. Though most of the food journals are making compulsory to disclose the name who pays for their work, but I feel it is still not to enough to alert readers to that extent on which these food industry funding is influencing the research analysis and the opinion of health experts. The advices of these funded health experts’ results so strong to the recipients, that there aftereffects become unintentional and unrecognized. And, in later stage making them completely difficult to prevent.
Unravelling the lies how nutrition research is manipulated by food industry funding experts
Analysts and few food journals too revealed by looking all the patterns of such food industry funding experts that when these food companies funded research, their questions were framed in such a way that their results could be used for the marketing purpose of their particular product. Very soon it was clear that all these research work is not about the basic science and nutrition but much more towards the benefits of a product’s sale that could be established according to the food industry funding experts. It’s the high time now to unravel the lies the food industry is feeding you.
Marion Nestle, a public nutrition warrior, once mentioned that he too discovered that food industries in general are funding the research work for their benefit. He get several letters from these food industry funding experts looking for proposals to show the benefits of their products. These companies are just looking for evidence of benefits. That’s definitely not a science, that’s mere marketing research.
According to Marion Nestle, in his initial stage of research on “Soda Politics”, he came across research conducted by Coca Cola that was designed to provide the conclusion that sugary beverages were completely harmless and did not have anything to do with obesity and diabetes. Also, these research of Coca Cola pointed that consumers should not pay attention to those research which found problems with sugary beverages, as they are flawed. Hence, it is completely visible that this Coca Cola funding research was only designed to produce result that would benefit to their personal interest.
Isn’t it shocking? It is tough to believe for me and even to several reporters that prominent company like Coca Cola would do something like this to fulfill its own interest and even researchers of esteemed universities would be greedy enough to carry out such studies.
Let’s talk about chocolates! World’s biggest producers of chocolate like Nestle, Mars, and Hershey etc. have invested millions of dollars into scientific research work that supports the health benefits of cocoa and chocolates. A group of expert scanned 100 Mars funded studies and found unimaginable conclusions about cocoa and chocolates. All these 100 studies promoted everything from chocolate’s heart health benefits to cocoa’s great ability to fight several diseases. This research along with media hype attracted the consumers and generated a clear shift in the consumer’s perception of chocolate products that are also really full of sugar and calories.
How to unravel the fake news generated by Food Industry
Simple way to unravel the fake news is separating the facts from fiction. Unravelling the lies the Food Industry is feeding you can be discouraging for Food Industry. But it is not that easy, getting the truth always cost the effort. Follow these few ways to spot the fake news:
- Understand the links between ideas
One main reason the fake news is that much great issue is that it is easily believable i.e. it is easy to be get caught. Main aim of writing fake stories is to create shock. This shows that you need to keep check on your emotional response towards such fake news. Keep in mind that you should not approach blindly to what you see and hear.
Just ask few questions to yourself like Why has this story been written?, Is it to force me to move to certain desired viewpoint?, How news creator will be benefitted by this?, Is it trying to sell any particular product? Or is it a forcing me to click to another website?
You will definitely catch the hidden aim of fake news generated by food industry.
- What is a credible source
Check for the source of this story and if found a source that you have never heard earlier, then put some more effort on searching. Search that publisher is a professional and from any well-known news agency or it is reported from a personal blog. Go through the URL page carefully. It is a web address that helps browsers to find site on Internet. URLs ending with extensions like .com and .co.uk are trusted one but .infonet and .offer or containing some spelling mistakes shows that the source is suspicious.
- Check anyone else is also reporting the story
Check that same story is taken by other well-known news publishers or not. Stories reported by Reuters, CNN and BBC are trustworthy. If your information is not from such reputed source then there is a chance that news you are having could be fake. Be alert, people who spread fake news many a times create web pages and doctored images that looks fully official. Always check official websites of well-known news agencies.
- Inspect the evidence
The authentic news will always include several facts like survey result data and statistics, quotes from experts. One can refer to some prominent food journals too to investigate. If such information are not there then start questioning about evidence proof from its source.
- Fake Images
In recent times, several modern editing software are available that has made it easy for people to create unreal images. Trust me, it looks quite professional and real. Many of us cannot find if the images are fake.
By watching carefully, you can identify fake images. Strange shadow on image or jagged edges around the image questions its reality. Tools like Google Reverse Image Search can be used to check whether the image has been transformed or used in wrong context.
These were few ways that can help you in unravelling the lies the Food Industry is feeding you and unravel the fake news generated by Food Industry.
The tricks food companies use to make their food addictive
Ever wondered why the Craving happens? It doesn’t only happen with food lovers. Many of us have experienced the impulse to get and consume a favorite packaged food. These food companies play a trick on us. They know you will be back for more because they have done several research to make it happen.
Few main tricks that smart food companies are having to make you eat a lot more than you think:
- Processing – Processing of these tempting packaged food basically involves removal of husk, shell, bran, fiber and few more which makes it quite easy to eat more and lot quicker. It can be treated as a baby food for adults.
Tricks like offering boneless wings so that you can enjoy more without effort, deep frying anything replaces water content with fat which creates crispiness which you desired for adding much strong flavors to it, and think about buttery rolls and sauces – fats helps bring extra flavors giving super soft texture in your mouth, are prominent these days.
- Perfect amount of sugar and fat – This is another trick which all food industry are using to make your food more addictive. It was really shocking for me when I came to know that apple sauce, cereals and even pasta sauce are prepared by adding artificial sweeteners/sugar. These days, any sauce of dressing you enjoy has added sugar and fat. Trust me on this, the wings you are offered in restaurants are actually been fried 2-3 times before coming to your palette. Consumers are now becoming aware and started avoiding food having sugar on labels. So, food companies again played their trick and replaced the sugar from honey, high fructose corn syrup and molasses so that sugary taste can be maintained.
Added sugar is everywhere from breads to ketchup and pizza sauce. Mind it, apple sauce, breakfast cereals, orange juice and several more are slowly killing you through its added sugar.
- Chemicals and artificial flavors – Do you know, your hot chocolate has almost NO chocolate in it? It is commonly made up of some dairy replacements to provide that tempting creamy quality and finally mixed with added sugar and artificial flavors. Million dollars are invested these days by food industry to make food taste like something which it is not in real.
Why labels like "all natural" and "non-GMO" aren't what they seem and how to identify the healthiest food
Labels like “all natural” and “non-GMO” aren’t what they seem because there is no universal standard or definition for this claim.
It is really tough to discuss and form a conclusion as there is no proper definition of all natural and non-GMO labels. But after filing a petition by few citizens, FDA is working on defining the labels. Scientifically it is tough to define a food that is natural as the food has probably been processed and is no more a natural product of earth. Though FDA has not developed the use of the term natural, it has not even objected to use the term unless that food does not contain any artificial flavors, added color or any synthetic substance.
There are many processed food products that are labelled as all natural as they fit the current FDA standard. Fresh vegetables, coffee beans etc. are processed food but as nothing unnatural is added to it so it is termed as “all natural”.
Similar to “all natural”, there is no unilateral definition for non-GMO that reports the features that are of consumer’s concern mainly because there is no simple and unilateral definition that fits for the use of the term. The term non-GMO is used to overcome natural physiological reproductive barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection of plants. There are no proper regulations on labeling of food containing GE or GMOs. Still there are many food industries that have started using label “non-GMO” to protect their consumers.
Well, food companies require proper certification from farmers that the materials were not genetically modified in any manner.
So, wondering natural or non-GMO foods better for you? It does not depend only on the producers’ applications of the label, but on your source of information, your values, your health situation and above all, your own definition of better.
Food marketing hoaxes that persuade us into buying junk food disguised as health food
In recent times, over weight and obesity is becoming a global issue. There has been several promotional activities taken up by food industry just to encourage the consumption of unhealthy food. Children of this generation are becoming worst target of this. Food industry popularizes their product saying junk food can be part of a balanced diet and that the food, non-alcoholic drink and advertising industries can be entrusted to market these types of products responsibly without the intervention of government, or with minimal government intervention.
A British Heart Foundation and Children’s Food Campaign concluded that food marketing to children is mainly for unhealthy products and this makes them prone towards unhealthy eating habits which are continued into adulthood. Food marketers are interested in youth as consumers because of their spending nature, their purchasing influence, and above all future adult consumers. Food marketing channels include television advertising, in-school marketing, product placements, kids clubs, the Internet and what not. Foods marketed to children and adult are predominantly high in sugar and fat, and are filled with national dietary recommendations.
It is high time that researchers and the food and nutrition community recognize the influence of food industry sponsors, take steps to control their supremacy, and ensure that sponsored research promotes public health, not marketing of food products. Editor of food Journals should ensure that editors and members of editorial boards are free of industry conflicts, and be careful in accepting industry-funded publications with clear commercial implications. Everyone involved in this system should leave no stone unturned in doing everything possible to support for more research funds from federal granting agencies. No less than the credibility of research and nutritional advice is at stake.