Thursday, 11 July 2013

"Free From" Food Industry Exposed

Tonight's "The One Show" exposes the urban myths about "Free From" food. 

It's about time someone blew the whistle on the booming food industry in the West supplying "Free From food for those diagnosed with food allergies and intolerances and I was delighted that the BBC has chosen to highlight this industry. One of the main reasons I set up the "Recipe Resource" was precisely because of this surge in "Free From" products which seemed to be exempt from the increasingly high nutritional standards we have come to expect from the food we buy. I couldn't bring myself to feed my children the majority of the food on offer which was compatible with their medically prescribed exclusion diet.

 As I've said for years, so much of this food is poor quality, full of cheap non-food fillers like corn starch which can mess with your insulin production and blood sugar regulation in the long term, causing hypos in many on restricted diets. Sugar and salt content is often higher too, to disguise the lack of natural flavour. It's why I won't buy anything I can make myself - but we are lucky that the twins can tolerate more than many people I know.

Many people falsely believe "Free From" food is automatically healthier too. This is of course true in some respects, if you have Coeliac Disease then yes, a gluten free loaf (a third the size of a regular one costing £2.99) IS the healthier option but I do hate the trend for "free from" exclusion diets amongst some celebrities who have little or no idea of the impact publicising false health "benefits" can have. But what is particularly depressing is that my children, like so many other children and adults are dependent on the "allergy" food industry to meet their nutritional needs - whether partially or fully. We have no choice. Without a strict exclusion diet my son was heading towards bowel surgery due to chronic inflammation and resultant nerve damage due to local allergic reaction to foods. It is a medically prescribed diet which we have no choice but to follow, but this should not also be a nutritional compromise when we pay over and above the cost of similar regular foods.

It's time we had some real regulations, respect for those who are genuinely allergic and provision for healthy alternatives. There are many reasons why people exclude foods from their diet. IgE allergies, non-IgE gut allergies and intolerances are perhaps the most common, but whatever the reason those purchasing such foods need honest selling and deserve a basic nutritional standard. Manufacturing"Free From" food is a massive money spinner and people are being taken advantage of. At present we are being sold such food as if we should just be grateful. How about selling it for its content, what IS in it rather than what left out?

I've been saying all this for years.

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