Popcorn with palm oil, the burden of lightness

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After examining some potato chip labels., let us now look at a bag of ‘popcorn’ with palm oil that is even presented as ‘light,’ in defiance of the applicable rules. Once again, saturated fats in abundance over the recommended consumption thresholds for adults.

The words ‘Light! Popped in hot air – Not fried‘ stands out on the front of the ‘Crik Crok’ brand popcorn label. On closer inspection, however, the use of the claim ‘light,’‘light,’ or the like is allowed only when the food has an energy value-or of‘one or more nutrients‘-reduced by at least 30 percent (1) compared to the average of the best-selling foods on the national market, within the same commodity category.


The claim is also accompanied
by a specification of the characteristics that make the product “LIGHT” or “LIGHT”‘(e.g., ‘-30% fat’). Where lightness refers to energy, the requirement to‘specify the characteristics that cause a reduction in the total energy value of the food‘ also applies. (2)

The Antitrust Authority (3) went on to clarify that the label must refer to the source of the data–e.g., Nielsen, Symphony IRI, industry trade association–used to develop the benchmark. Instead, the details of the analysis can be specified on the operator’s website.

However, the alleged lightness of the popcorn under consideration is without any justification and is indeed belied by the values displayed in the nutritional table. In fact, 100 grams of the product provides 50% of the saturated fat that an adult should not exceed in a 24-hour period. (4)

Instead, the actual heaviness of popcorn is explained by reading the ingredient list. Saturated fats are derived from palm oil-unfortunately still common, in potato chips and salty snacks-which in this case is thinly disguised under the heading‘vegetable oils (sunflower, palm in varying proportions).’

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) At least 25%, in the case of salt or sodium reduction

(2) See reg. EC 1924/06, Article 9 and Annex

(3) AGCM, Competition and Market Authority.

(4) The correctness of the reference in the nutritional table to a ‘serving size’ of 25 g instead of the 35 g in the bag that would thus contain ‘1.4 servings’ is also questioned