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More about less fat (than what)

New Scientist’s Feedback column cogitates:

On 30 January, we reported on the fat content of Cadbury’s Mini Rolls. Now Rod Costigan sends us his thoughts about another Cadbury product, Fry’s Turkish Delight.

The packaging of this “exotic taste sensation” boasts that it is “60 per cent less fat*, and always has been”. Rod says he often sees these “less fat” claims on food packaging and wonders whether they are comparing themselves with another product or just an old version of the same one. He has tended to assume the latter but this would mean “always has been” makes no sense.

Then Rod took note of the asterisk, and soon found a corresponding asterisk and an upside-down note on the edge of the Turkish delight pack. This revealed that the point of comparison is per gram of “the average of leading chocolate bars”.

Rod finds this disappointing. He points out that Fry’s Turkish Delight is mainly a Turkish-delight-type of substance, as you would expect – so, even though it is coated in a thin layer of chocolate, surely the proper benchmark should be Turkish delight, not chocolate. But perhaps “contains more fat, and always has done” (in comparison with pure Turkish delight) doesn’t have quite the right ring to it.

Nevertheless, Rod likes the idea that chocolate might become the fat content benchmark for the whole food industry. A pork chop, for example, might boast that it has “10 per cent less fat* [*than chocolate], and always has done”.

Then again, if you can choose any benchmark you like, why not choose fat itself? In which case you could advertise a pork chop as “50 per cent less fat* [*than fat], and always has been.”

Now that US giant Kraft has taken over Cadbury, perhaps these products will start to display fat content information that makes more sense.

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