Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Naming of Parts: "Contains Sulfites"

This is autobiography

I was brought up on bread and jam, toast and marmalade, and I loved it. Only in recent years have I slacked off. It seems I don't digest bread very well. (Pandas don't digest bamboo shoots very well but they are still hooked on them).

On our 1950s and 1960s table the pots of jam proclaimed "Honestly Made, Honestly Better" but they did not proclaim their ingredients. I began to think about this when East European jams began to appear in the local Co-op in the early 1960s. I was a teenager and doing the shopping for my mother when she was ill. The jars were tall and sloped towards the lid, the glass greenish with air bubbles. The jam was delicious, big halves of apricots swimming in the loosely set jam. It was cheaper, too. My mother was not convinced. It was foreign.

It is one of the achievements of the European Union to have forced the labelling of food products. Honestly made, honestly better turned out to be full of colours and preservatives and not much fruit. Basically, it was junk. The Hungarian jams were fruit and sugar.

Food labelling helps us improve the quality of our life. We can make informed choices. It has forced producers into cutting the crap content of their products. Sometimes, the information now provided seems excessive. But in one case, the labelling remains inadequate.

Thanks to the influence of the wine producing countries, the European Union still does not require the labelling of wine with its contents. We have got only so far as a grudging "Contains Sulfites". Since they all contain it, no producer loses. I would really like to know what my wine contains. Then I might understand why some of it gives me a headache though most doesn't.

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