Supermarkets cash in on unfounded fears about food and health
Published on 09 May 2013
We have all found ourselves standing in a supermarket aisle, staring at packets and cans, struggling to choose between different versions of the same thing: Do I choose the product that is "free from artificial sweetener" or has "no MSG"? What about the one that "contains no GM" or is "paraben-free"?
But these are false choices: supermarkets are misinforming their customers about health risks. There is no scientific evidence to support rumours about adverse health effects from the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG), or from foods containing material from plants that were genetically modified, or from the sweetener aspartame, or from parabens, which are used to preserve toiletries.
By marketing products as "free from" supermarkets are playing on people's fears, which are based on the rumours that have circulated about these substances.