Thursday, May 9, 2013

How The Food Industry Manipulates Taste Buds With 'Salt Sugar Fat'. By Nell Boeschenstein

Dealing Coke to customers called "heavy users." Selling to teens in an attempt to hook them for life. Scientifically tweaking ratios of salt, sugar and fat to optimize consumer bliss.

In his new book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss goes inside the world of processed and packaged foods.

Moss begins his tale back in 1999, when a vice president at Kraft addressed a meeting of top executives of America's biggest food companies. His topic: the growing public health concerns over the obesity epidemic and the role packaged and processed foods were playing in it. Michael Mudd stated his case, pleading with his colleagues to pay attention to the health crisis and consider what companies could do to hold themselves accountable.

According to Moss, the first response came from the CEO of General Mills.

"[He] got up and made some very forceful points from his perspective," Moss tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, "and his points included this: We at General Mills have been responsible not only to consumers but to shareholders. We offer products that are low-fat, low-sugar, have whole grains in them, to people who are concerned about eating those products.

"Bottom line being, though, that we need to ensure that our products taste good, because our accountability is also to our shareholders. And there's no way we could start down-formulating the usage of salt, sugar, fat if the end result is going to be something that people do not want to eat." 

In Salt Sugar Fat, Moss details how those three ingredients became key to the success of processed and packaged foods — and how they are fueling the nationwide obesity epidemic. 

Employing scientists to dissect elements of the palate and tweak ratios of salt, sugar and fat to optimize taste, the processed food industry, Moss says, has hooked consumers on their products the same way the cigarette industry hooked smokers on nicotine ... ► Read the full article by Nell Boeschenstein in The Salt blog│NPR

Author: Nell Boeschenstein
Book: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Book author: Michael Moss is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times ... more

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