When food isn’t food anymore

Back to keep us informed about the latest developments in the nutrition arena is my colleague and friend Amy Snider. Today she has interesting news about how food products are now being classified as health products and what that means for consumers.

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Futurists predict that in the future, rather than sit down with a knife and fork to eat our meals we will simply pop a pill that supplies all our daily nutritional needs. Food lovers like me find this concept rather bleak (especially since I’ll be out of a job as well as bored with my meals!) but have comforted ourselves that the scenario is in the distant future. However, at the recent international launch for Nestea Vitao, I realized we’re already striding down this path.

These cool, flavourful and refreshing teas come in three flavours, Fuji Apple Green Tea, Acai Blueberry Red Tea and Mandarin Orange White Tea. Although these descriptions sound like food and are delivered as a conventional drink experience, instead of being classified as food products, these drinks are considered Natural Health Products.

That’s a distinction worth noting. Rather than a Nutrition Facts Panel on the package (as required by law for all foods and beverages) the label on this product reads like a prescription: “Drink 1 to 3 bottles per day as needed. Do not exceed 3 bottles per day.”

What bothers me is that while these teas are made with natural ingredients and contain healthful antioxidants they still contain calories… how are consumers supposed to balance their caloric intake if there is no information provided?

Expect to see more products take this approach as R&D teams try to give their brands an edge as foodaseuticals. Nanotechnology and other advances in supplementation are pushing the envelope further… I’m paying attention and hope you are, too.

Text written by Amy Snider, PHEC


4 Responses to When food isn’t food anymore

  1. Cheryl says:

    Feh. This marketing stuff makes me nuts. If it looks like a bottled beverage and tastes like a bottled beverage, don’t try to convince me it’s a “health tonic.” This is Michael Pollan (“Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly leaves.”) backlash at its most extreme.

    Now excuse me while I go brew myself a real cup of tea…

  2. danamccauley says:

    Did you make enough for two Cheryl? If so, I’ll join you.

  3. I’ve heard the prediction that we’ll be eating meals in pill form for a long time, but don’t think we’ll get to that stage because pills don’t satisfy our need to chew, swallow and SOCIALIZE. Food is the core to most of our family/religious/cultural rituals and I can’t see anything replacing it.

    That said, these health drinks (and meal replacement bars) are fooling a lot of people into thinking they’re doing themselves some good. While this tea is better than grabbing a Coke, every step we take away from real food is dangerous.

  4. Free Chat says:

    I agree to some extent. I do enjoy reading your blog though. First time I posted, but I’m a lurker for sure!
    I would agree with the entire post except maybe the second paragraph.

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