Additives cause concern

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Butter, Nutrition, Milk

According to a new study, consumers in the UK are more concerned
about the potential health problems associated with additives in
dairy foods than those linked to fats in products such as butter.

Butter has become increasingly unpopular in the UK as increasingly health conscious consumers have switched to oil-based products such as low fat margarine and spreads, widely perceived to be healthier.

But despite the ever-growing popularity of margarine and spreads, consumers are not completely convinced about the healthiness of such products - at least according to the results of a recent survey carried out by the Butter Board, the body set up to promote the dairy product.

The Butter Board claims that more than half of those it questioned said that processed foods containing E-numbers posed a potentially greater risk to health than dairy fats.

The board has started a campaign highlighting the fact that butter is an "entirely natural product"​ in response to the survey's findings.

While the Butter Board has been quick to exploit fears over the growing use of additives to support its own campaign, the issue is in fact a far broader one, with numerous studies suggesting that certain food additives could be linked to health problems.

For example, the Consumers' Association magazine Which?​ recently published an article identifying some of the problems allegedly associated with the increased use of additives in the food industry, including hyperactivity and tantrums in children.

Dr John Briffa, an authority on the nutritional management of health and disease, said that the Butter Board's survey reinforced the need for ministers to respond to public concerns.

"People are clearly worried and feel very strongly that action should be taken to control the ingredient in the food,"​ he said. "The government has previously said that examining the role of E-numbers in food was not necessarily a top priority. Perhaps the time has come to change that and at least look at introducing checks to make sure only those additives which have a proven nutritional benefit are allowed."

The problem is that in these health-conscious days, manufacturers are keener than ever to accentuate the positive, as the Butter Board's stance clearly shows, and with consumers being bombarded by so much confusing information, a lot more work will be needed at both national and international level to standardise nutritional labelling to ensure that the right message gets through.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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