Firms fooling shoppers with ’shoddy science’

November 14th, 2007 - 2:02 am ICT by admin  
The scientists contacted manufacturers’ customer care lines to dispute the claims made for 11 products or brands from sandwiches and yoghurt to health spa accessories and Himalayan salt lamps.

Their report, called There Goes the Science Bit, is published by the charity Sense About Science.estle came under scrutiny for claiming its Ski Activ8 yoghurt optimized the release of energy, if combined with healthy diet and life style. However, the authors say that if people eat a healthy diet and have enough B vitamins, having more yoghurt will not help.

The report also criticized Pret A Manger for vague claims about how they “shun the obscure chemicals” such as sodium benzoate, even though these occur naturally in apples and cranberries.

However sodium benzoate occurs naturally in apples and cranberries, and Sense About Science says the company uses E250 (sodium nitrite) and E500 (an ingredient of baking powder).

“It is impossible to avoid all chemicals and E numbers. We don’t say that we don’t use them at all but that we avoid them if possible,” the Daily Mail quoted Jay Chapman, the firm’s marketing manager, as saying.

But, Alice Tuff, of Sense About Science, said she was ‘frustrated’ by the mistaken belief that a naturally derived chemical is better than a synthetic one, when there is no difference.

Other companies emphasized in the report included supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Co-op, which were both accused of manipulating science to justify changes to product content.

The 2001 medicine Nobel prize winner Sir Paul Nurse applauded the Sense About Science report, saying producers’ and retailers’ lack of science had been ‘mercilessly exposed’ by intelligent scientists prepared to spend time ‘unmasking the empty pseudoscience’ of the claims.

“The public is well served by scientists prepared to spend time exposing scientific nonsense . . . they should be applauded for acting as warriors against claptrap,” said Peter Atkins, chemistry professor at Oxford University. (ANI)

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