60 Minutes takes the flavour industry to task
“Why do you have to make food taste so good that we overeat?” seemed to be the theme of a recent 60 Minutes episode on the CBS channel. Swiss flavour company Givaudan, “the largest flavouring company in the world,” was the food industry’s defender in “The Flavorists: Tweaking tastes and creating cravings.” TV personality Morley Safer exposed this diabolical “multibillion dollar industry … cloaked in secrecy.”
“As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, you may feel as overstuffed as that turkey you ate,” Safer began. While the journalist tried to maintain objectivity, the general tone was the food processing industry is the cause of obesity in America, and flavour suppliers like Givaudan are “the enabler,” Safer says, “making us addicted.”
A team from Givaudan, headed by Jim Hassel, led Safer from a California citrus grove to Hong Kong restaurants to Givaudan’s labs. While Safer seemed duly impressed by the technology involved in turning a roasted chicken into a powder, he also noted, “strawberry and vanilla flavour can come from the gland in a beaver’s backside”.
Former FDA chief David Kessler had a cameo, suggesting “flavours are so stimulating, they hijack our brain”.
But Hassel fought back: “Everyone, everyone, everyone [in the food industry] is working on health and wellness. But the consumers are interesting. As much as they want to be healthy, ‘If it’s not as sweet then I don’t want it.’ ”
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