The Nation Bites Back

December 07, 2009

Jamie Oliver is known all over the world as a celebrity chef. He is probably most well known for teaming up with the British government and changing the way children eat at school. On his very own website he explains ‘I’ve been campaigning to ban the junk in schools and get kids eating fresh, tasty nutritious food instead’.

Jamie Oliver is even campaigning for the primary school curriculum to include classes on good eating habits. It seems that he is truly committed to helping the nation get healthier. With a biggest strain on the NHS caused by obesity, rather than smoking, it is certain something has to be done.

I praise Jamie; he has spent a lot of time and put in a lot of effort to try and help the nation. He has even convinced the government to commit to spend £280 million over the next 10 years to support the project. I’ve watched his TV shows, followed his recipes, bought his books and welcomed the change at my own school when they took away the doughnuts to replace them with tasty, healthy snacks. Being a chef myself, I have even seen change being made at the restaurant I work at, and in the food my Mother cooks for my own family.

However, in recent news it has emerged that he may not be as committed as we believed. Jamie Oliver has his own line of products, from ready made salads, flavor shakers, cookware and even his own cooking Nintendo DS game! His products are described as top quality, using the finest ingredients and specifically designed by himself and his teams’ specifications.

If this is the case then, why does one jar of his very own Spicy Olive Garlic and Tomato Pasta Sauce include 10.6 grams of salt? If an adult ate a whole jar of this pasta sauce they would exceed their guideline daily amount by 76% (half a jar would be 88% of an adults GDA). He is the chef who banished Turkey Twizzlers from our children’s lunch menu on the grounds that they were unhealthy, yet his own pasta sauce contains more salt than the very product he despised.

The packaging is also very confusing. The GDA is based on half a jar of the sauce, making it harder to calculate how much salt is included in a serving -Roughly one serving of his pasta sauce is the equivalent of eating 10 packets of ready slated crisps. Out of 190 pasta sauces listed, Jamie’s pasta sauce came second for having the highest sodium and salt content, and has the highest salt content for tomato based pasta sauces per 100g.

A spokesman said that Jamie and the team have been working on a lower-salt recipe since the spring. "These are now in production and will be available for supermarkets to order in from early December. The new spicy olive, garlic & tomato sauce, for example, will have 0.8g of salt per 100g as opposed to 3g. All of the new pasta sauces will be within the FSA 2012 guidelines."
One question I have, however, is why didn’t they fix this problem a year ago? Or better yet, never produce such an unhealthy sauce in the first place.

25% of teenagers are now obese. The government has therefore had to enforce new guidelines, which will be introduced in 2012, which restrict the amount of salt and sugar being put into ready made food. Why not produce a product within these guidelines if you have to change it in two years time a anyway?

Apparently the sauces were designed to serve 4-6 people, as a pizza topping or dressing for example, but there is no evidence on the labeling or on his website which promotes the product.
I have been let down by Jamie. He used to be one of my favorite celebrities, but now appears to be yet another celebrity, appearing sincere, but yet always focusing on the money. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it was a mistake; I know I wouldn’t be too please with the team who designed the product if that is the case.

All is not lost, however. It looks like I will be making his very own recipe of balsamic roast potatoes as part of my Christmas Eve dinner this year, so there is a chance of him getting back into the nations good books. Lets just hope he focuses on making new, delicious recipes instead of making money out of misleading products.