Saturated Fat -The Facts

Last year the Food Standards Agency launched a public health campaign to raise awareness of the health risks of eating too much saturated fat. The UK is currently eating a staggering 20% more saturated fat than current Government recommendations. As I’m sure many of you are aware, the long term effects of eating a diet high in saturated fat are that it can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, heart attacks, angina and strokes. Cardio Vascular Disease is the most common cause of death in the UK and in 2006 was responsible for about one in three premature deaths. It is a well known fact that diet is a key risk factor in heart disease and it is estimated that cutting our intake of saturated fat could prevent up to 3,500 premature deaths a year, and therefore save the UK economy more than £1 billion a year in related costs.

Eating a diet that is high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood over time. Foods which are high in saturated are:

• cakes and biscuits

• cream, soured cream, crème fraîche and ice cream

• meat products such as sausages and pies

• pastries • butter and lard

• cheese

• some sweet snacks and chocolate

There are a whole host of simple, positive and practical steps we can take to help improve our health and reduce the risk of developing diet-related illness. • The Food Standards Agency have some great tips on how to make small changes to your daily routine some of which include:

• Trying a skinny latte rather than a whole milk latte next time you find yourself are in your favourite coffee house.

• If you are tempted by pizza now and again, try choosing a lower-fat topping such as vegetables, fish or prawns, instead of pepperoni, salami or extra cheese.

• If you enjoy spaghetti bolognaise go for leaner mince to reduce the saturated fat content or try it vegetarian-style for a change.

• When you are cooking, use an unsaturated oil such as sunflower, rapeseed or olive, rather than butter, lard or ghee and go for thick, straight-cut chips instead of French fries or crinkle-cut, and if you’re making your own, pop them in the oven with a drizzle of sunflower oil, rather than deep-frying.

Of course most people don’t have time to tot up the amount of saturated fat they are eating every day but it’s a good idea to take a look at how much saturated fat is in different foods. As a general guide:

High is more than 5g sat fat per 100g

Low is 1.5g sat fat per 100g

The average man should have no more than 30g saturated fat a day, the average woman should have no more than 20g saturated fat a day.

So we here at the Vision Food Hall advise you to take a closer look at the label to moderate you saturated fat intake. Trading Standards make routine checks to ensure the information provided on a label is accurate, honest and true. Visit our virtual interactive food hall at http://www.visionfoodhall.com for some interesting nutritional facts about a whole variety of foods.

Advertisements

Eat more fish

It is recommended by the Food Standards Agency that we eat at least two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are good sources of protein, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and oily fish is particularly rich in omega 3 fatty acids.  

What is classed as oily fish?  
Fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring fall under this category and are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which has been linked to improving a persons ability to concentrate.  Oily fish is also a great source of vitamins A and D, the latter being essential for calcium absorption.   

What is classed as white fish?
White fish includes haddock, plaice, pollack, coley and cod and is generally very low in fat and very easy for the body to digest.  White fish does contain some omega 3 fatty acids but not so much as oily fish.  So, white fish is  a healthier low-fat alternative to red meat.  100g of haddock, for instance, contains less than 1g of fat. Lower in fat also means lower in calories.
 
What about shellfish?
Prawns, mussels, oysters, crab and squid fall into this catergory.  Shellfish are very low in fat, are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, iodine and copper.  
For some top tips on how to cook your fish go for steamed, baked or grilled fish or shellfish, rather than fried. This is because frying makes fish and shellfish much higher in fat, especially if they’re cooked in batter.

 If you are concerned with conservation issue, here are some top tips from the FSA to be aware of:  
• Buy a variety of fish to take the pressure off a select few
• Try and buy locally caught fish
• Try to find out how your fish was caught by asking retailers to supply information.
• If you are buying farmed fish, opt for those which have been farmed in open sea conditions. Avoid fish that rely on large supplies of wild-caught fish as feed (again, ask your supplier)
•  Keep asking questions of retailers. Consumer concerns eventually translate into supplier action

For vegetarians, it is worth noting that advice about eating oily fish is aimed at preventing heart disease. According to the vegetarian society, a vegetarian diet should already give you a head start in preventing this ailment.  Good sources of omega 3 oils can be found for the vegetarian diet, for example, flaxseed oil, hulled hemp seeds, rapeseed oil and walnuts all offer a source of omega 3. Again the vegetarian society suggests that a tablespoon of flaxseed oil a day would be a sufficient supply of omega 3.

Here at Gloucestershire Trading Standards we carry out tests each year to make sure you are getting what you pay for.  Some unscrupulous traders have been known to deceive the general public by trying to pass off an inferior type of fish for halibut or something similar which is obviously more costly.  Analysis will quickly show up one species of a fish from another.  If you have any concerns or would like to comment on any aspect of this post, please get in touch now on (01452) 426219.

Winter mood food

Did you know that winter depression, otherwise known as “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD, is thought to affect up to one in 15 Brits every year between September and April? Around another 17% of us are said to get a milder form of the condition, known as the “winter blues”.

A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Here are some top tips from the Food Vision Team to help you get through the last leg of winter!

  1. Always eat breakfast. This will give your mood its first lift of the day.
  2. Change your eating habits by taking regular snacks throughout the day incorporating foods like chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and dried fruit to keep those sugar levels up.  Get out of the habit of thinking you need three large meals a day.  
  3. A deficiency in selenium has been linked to feeling low.  Brazil nuts will help with this as will eating foods rich in omega oils. Choose oily fish such as fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines.  Non-fish omega-rich foods include walnuts, hemp oil and seeds.   
  4. Turn to protein-rich foods such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk — as these are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which converts in the brain to mood-enhancing serotonin. Make sure lunch and supper contain protein alongside starches — pasta, bread, potatoes.  
  5. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. These will help you get brain boosting B vitamins together with vitamin C.  Fresh juice and salads are always a good place to start. 
  6. Drink water throughout the day.  This will keep your concentration levels up and help flush out your system. It will help digest the extra fibre you’re eating too.  Keep teas and coffees to a minimum as the caffeine will affect your mood, and cut out alcohol and fizzy, sugary drinks altogether. And finally…
  7. Do more exercise or get outside more. This boosts your circulation and produces endorphins, ‘feel good’ chemicals. Being in the sunshine makes you feel less drowsy and gives you more energy.

For more general information on what to look for on a label and interesting nutritional facts visit our virtual food hall now and take up our challenge!  Go to www.visionfoodhall.com

New Year – New Diet?

Amanda Glos writes…

As the New Year opens up in front of us, it is a time many of us embark on a pledge to a healthier diet regime, but please STOP, LOOK & READ the labelling of the food you are eating and don’t get fooled like me.

Let me explain. As a treat I bought myself some Medjool dates. Something that I thought was pretty healthy, as they are just dried fruit. As soon as I got home I decided to tuck into one. It tasted so wonderful I thought I would have just one more. It was at this point my eye caught a logo on the pack “1 of 5 a day = 4 dates”. So whilst munching through my second date I thought I would be very virtuous and eat 4 dates. I thought at least I could knock off one of my five a day fruit and veg. Feeling very pleased with myself I started eating the third date. It was at this point that I started feeling decidedly sick, and unable to eat anymore. Returning to the packaging for some clue or other, the answer was there, right along-side the logo “1 of 5 a day= 4 dates”! If I had eaten the 4 dates I would have consumed almost 60% of my sugar for the day!

I felt that the “marketing men” had got to me and I had been taken in by them. All the information I needed to make an informed choice was on the label, and in this case side by side on the front of the pack. My eye had been drawn to part of it and I didn’t bother to read any further. So please, STOP, take a closer LOOK, and READ the whole label so that you can make a balanced approach to your food.

For more information on food labelling go to the Vision virtual food hall.

What’s really on your Christmas menu?

 
With the festive season upon us many of us are already eyeing up the Christmas menus in anticipation – but how much is your choice influenced by descriptions that may not be all they seem?

The No Nonsense Christmas Menu

STARTERS
Organic Broccoli and Stilton Soup
There are detailed standards which must be adhered before the description ‘organic’ can be applied. The name ‘Stilton’ has legal protection so its use is restricted to specific cheese.
Homemade Chicken Liver Pate
The term ‘homemade’ can only be used for products made at home, or made in a way that reflects a typical domestic kitchen, such as a pub kitchen.
Traditional Fishcake
The term ‘traditional’ can only be used to describe a product that has existed for around 25 years.  The ingredients and process used to make the product should have been available, substantially unchanged, for that same period.

MAINS
Sausages and Free Range Eggs
A ‘sausage’ only contains a minimum of 32% pork, compared to at least 42%
 pork if it is called ‘pork sausage’.  Poultry and rabbit sausage only need to contain 26% meat and for all others, including beef, the minimum is 30%.
Eggs described as ‘free range’ must be produced in poultry establishments, which meet standards such as continuous daytime access for hens to open air runs, access to ground mainly covered with vegetations and at least four square metres of ground per bird.
Norfolk Turkey Roll with Seasonal Vegetables
The turkey could be from anywhere as long as it was last underwent a substantial change, in this case rolled, in Norfolk. Slicing, cutting, mincing and/or packing of meat would not amount to the ‘substantial change’ required by law, so a Norfolk turkey breast would have to be from Norfolk.
Using the term ‘seasonal’ could be misleading if it is applied to imported produce, or produce that has been grown in heated greenhouses outside of its natural season
Fresh Pasta with Wild Mushroom Sauce
The description ‘fresh’ must not be used where ingredients have been tinned, frozen or dried. There is no legal definition of ‘wild’ but action could still be taken if a trading standards officer believed this to be misleading, and that the product had in fact been farmed

DESSERT  
Auntie Annie’s British Christmas Pudding
When using a name this should not lead to the product easily being mistaken for another, similar product, a practice called ‘passing off’.  It also must not already be a registered trademark.
‘British’ does not mean that the ingredients must be British – it may just mean the product has been put together in Britain.
A Light Cheesecake with Exotic Fruit
The world ‘light’ may refer to the texture rather than the product being low in fat, SUGAR? or calories.  It is advisable to clarify the meaning so that it is not misleading.  If it is low in fat, sugar or calories it needs to be at least 30 per cent lower than the typical value to qualify as ‘light’.
 ‘Exotic’ fruit should be fruit that cannot be grown outside in the UK
Selection of Local Cheeses
There is no legal definition of the term ‘local’ but action can be taken by a trading standards officer if it is believed that the description is misleading.

How much did you know and how much did you learn? Many pubs and restaurants visited by trading standards officers across the country have been found to be using misleading menu descriptions. The reputable side of the business are getting increasingly frustrated that some are giving them a bad name.
 
But consumers can find out more for themselves, so we are hoping that by explaining some of the most common terms people will be able to make a more informed choice, ask the right questions and know exactly what they are ordering.
 
Are there any particular descriptions you have found misleading? Let us know.

Should we worry about ‘out of date’ food?

food-labelHow much do we really know and understand about the dates given on our foods that we buy from supermarkets, grocers, butchers and the like? Apparently not a lot if the high food poisoning figures for the population are looked at. Is this due to us not understanding the meaning of the dates or how to store foods or how long to keep them for?

There is much confusion over durability dates given on food, with newspapers and television programmes happily discussing ‘sell by’ dates. There is no such thing as a ‘sell by’ date any more. The two types of durability dates are the ‘use by’ date and the ‘best before’ date.

A use by date is given on foods ‘which from a microbiological point of view are highly perishable and in consequence likely after a short period to constitute an immediate danger to human health’. In other words, they need to be stored in the fridge, they are going to go off quickly and could possibly give you food poisoning if they are eaten after the use by date. They will be found for example on meat, fish, ready meals, dairy foods such as cream or soft cheeses, pre-packed salads, foods containing eggs, such as egg sandwiches, etc.

You should always keep foods with a use by date in the fridge, and eat it within that date. You should never take a risk of eating it after that date even if it smells OK, as you cannot tell from the smell or look of it whether it is harmful to you.

A best before date is used on foods which do not have to be stored in the fridge as they are not highly perishable, such as tinned and dried foods such as coffee or pasta, cakes, bread, cereals etc. These products can be kept on the shelf for long periods of time without ‘going off’, and even then the food is only likely to go stale or hard as with bread and cakes, and will very rarely cause any food poisoning.

In shops, a food which is past its use by date cannot be sold or even displayed for sale as this is an offence. It is the shop’s responsibility to check the dates in their fridges and remove any foods before they reach the end of their use by date.

A shop can still sell a food past its best before date, as long as its quality is still OK. The responsibility for the quality of the food sold past its best before date passes from the manufacturer to the retailer, so the seller must ensure they have stored foods correctly in the shop and have a good system of stock rotation.

We do hope this article helps explain the differences. Have you been ever confused by use by/best before dates? Do you think we throw away too much food that is fit to eat? Write in and tell us your experiences…

Hospital Food

Check out Cirencester Community Hospital and its brand new restaurant. They are serving some really tasty, freshly prepared food to staff, patients and visitors. Its an amazing new premises with a well motivated kitchen brigade… and it’s open to the public.

I always had a perception about hospital food but when I see the work at the production kitchen at Stroud Maternity, the kitchens at Cirencester Community Hospital and the Gloucester Royal I am often impressed. Good ingredients simply prepared in some of the cleanest conditions I have ever seen with well trained staff.

Maybe I have been lucky I don’t know – what are your experiences of Gloucestershire Hospital meals? Be great to hear the good news… and the bad (if there is any).

Rob Rees MBE is The Cotswold Chef™