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Friday, April 25, 2003
The health fascisti

It was my birthday - 173rd, if you must know - a day or two ago. A group of friends and I flew down to the Seychelles for a bit of sun and relaxation. So if you were troubled by the noise of a fleet of executive jets participating in an aerial gumball rally, I can only apologise.

We had a great time but, on my return, I found most of my staff out on strike because I had taken their favourite porno tapes with me (to drop in the sea, of course). I returned to a mansion very low on supplies - there wasn't a slice of bread left in the house. So it was that I had to go to my local supermarket.

I find most bread far too salty to eat: as soon as it touches my lips, I can tell that each slice is laced with salt. My local supermarket discontinued low-sodium wholemeal a month or two ago. I was annoyed but not surprised to discover that they have also just discontinued reduced-sodium white. Confusingly, each of these breads was labelled "sodium bread".

No-one looking for low-sodium bread would choose a loaf labelled "sodium bread". Instead, they'd be far more likely to do without. I asked for some assistance and was pointed to a new line called "enriched" white bread. It claimed to have added fibre, folic acid, calcium, and reduced sodium. The sodium value, given in the nutrition information, is 0.4g per 100g - exactly the same value as that for another, ordinary loaf I took from the shelf.

Now, health professionals with any knowledge of nutrition maintain to a woman that we all eat too much salt. (They also make other criticisms of our diet, to which I'll return in a few blog's time.) Some newspapers and media people say that it is health fascism to be so judgmental about the things we eat. " We need choice," they say.

Well, blow me, who is being denied choice in this case? Who are the fascisti? The people who mis-label their more healthy food and then insist that there is insufficient demand for it or the nutritionists who tell us there's something wrong with our diets? No wonder the healthy eating brigade want fiercer legislation governing foodstuffs. Left to itself, the industry behaves objectionably.

As a final indication that the food industry is deliberately sabotaging healthy eating, this same outlet prices its unsalted nuts higher than the same-sized salted variety. The supermarket is, for your information, Sainsbury's.