Santa baby, please don’t slip this under the tree for me

Post-truth labelling

Browsing in a well-known department store in central London recently, I spotted this tempting-looking Christmas stocking filler: Peppermint Fudge Hot Chocolate, “an incredible blend of the finest cocoa chocolate chunks and peppermint flavour using only the very best ingredients”.

Hmm . . . suspicious old bah-humbug me, I decided to check out exactly what these ‘very best ingredients’ were by reading the smaller print label at the back of the pack.

Alongside the usual suspects of sugar in various forms (the pack contains the equivalent of 40 (not a typo) teaspoons of sugar), there is ‘an incredible blend’ of the finest man-made, health-destroying chemicals, including

  • genetically-modified marshmallows (eh?)
  • sodium hexametaphosphate, a thickener whose short-term side effects  include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and gastrointestinal irritation and general respiratory irritation. In the long-term, it can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer
  • E133, a synthetic food and cosmetics dye which can cause allergic reactions, particularly in people with asthma or those sensitive to aspirin
  • alkalised cocoa powder – this form of processing destroys the healthy, heart-protective elements of cocoa which, left to its own sweet self, just might have moderated the effects of all that sugar
  • soya lecithin – a study published in Science Direct found soya lecithin to be strongly oestrogenic, a known disruptor of thyroid and endocrine hormone production
  • Tricalcium phosphate – possible side effects  include respiratory irritation and pneumoconiosis if inhaled, or eye irritation and digestive disturbances if ingested.

‘Post-truth’ is Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 word of the year. Just saying.