Saturday, 1 October 2011

No wonder children’s teeth are falling out

No wonder children's teeth are falling out
Ruining children's dental health
 Every so often I pop into local shops to find out what awful products are being promoted to children, in the guise of ‘food’. This is some stuff from the past few months. In the middle of this photo, well, its like a baby’s dummy, inside the blob of clear plastic is a red sweet, it was shaped like the teat of a dummy but it melted back in May during some of the hottest days we have had this year. As you can see, it comes attached with some plastic teeth, maybe in a misguided effort to help children out when their teeth crumble into pieces after eating rubbish like this. There was also a Halloween version with purple gums and pointy teeth. I should have reported it to Trading Standards but if I go down that road, I could become dangerously obsessed. It’s all tied up with complicated definitions about whether labelling is correct. Can we not have some sweeping, over-riding regulations that stipulate that products which are sold as food, are actually, well, FOOD.

The bag of sweets, they look like coloured polystyrene foam, and the texture is what I imagine polystyrene is like as well, just heavily sweetened. They are in the shape of toothbrushes and sets of false teeth. Maybe the company is trying to be helpful by reminding children to brush their teeth, or it’s a rare example of honest marketing in children’s food, as they will need false teeth if they eat this crap. Yet, it has the audacity to have a health claim on the packet, that it contains 'NO articifial colours'. Yikes, it reminds me I haven’t been to the dentist in ages, and this gives me the motivation to make an appointment. Will take these products along and ask what for an opinion.

Food products, apparently

This next photo. Finally I am able to eat Toxic Waste. I read an article about this – yes it is a confectionery product - being launched in the UK about five years ago, in The Grocer magazine. This is a wonderful publication for keeping up with new food and household product launches, advertising campaigns, store openings, commodity prices, and retailers’ involvement with and reaction to government policy on issues like healthy eating. I saw the advert for Toxic Waste about five years ago, and stores were preparing a launch marketing campaign, but only found it on the shelves a few months ago, in Cornwall. In the interests of research I tasted it. The tin is full of little grey pellets, a colour like you might imagine something truly dreadful emerging from a waste pipe, probably illegally. It tastes truly disgusting, very sour, but underlying that it is very sweet, and the first ingredients on the list are sugars. That is the secret with all the gross out sweets, the main ingredients are sugars, sucrose, glucose, corn starch etc.

The pink tube thing on the left is a whistle, that does not even work, filled with nauseous neon pink coloured powder. And on the right, a spray on sweet. There is spray on cheese in America. It looks a bit like the yellow foam spray for filling up holes in household walls. Gross out food for kids is nothing new. Jelly Babies are a bit weird really, and I remember gobstoppers, which were huge and as hard as a ceramic ball, took ages to melt in your mouth, and left your tongue coloured a virulent green or purple colour. It is fun, I know as child I loved it. But maybe this needs looking at, with the problems with so many children’s unhealthy diets. They just seem to get addicted to junk food so easily, and awful, over-processed products help them on the road to developing an aversion to real, fresh food. There are some photos of hilariously bad examples on the Flickr group Unnecessary Consumer Prouducts and Questionable Foodstuffs. Sustain's Children's Food Campaign does excellent work on issues including marketing to children, learning cooking skills, and improving school meals.


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