Goodman Fielder have released their new 99% fat free mayonnaise just in time for the salad days of summer. The only problem is that it has more in common with a can of coke than mayonnaise. So why is allowed to be called mayonnaise and why does it have a Heart Foundation tick?
No one is sure who came up with the first recipe for mayonnaise. The Spanish reckon it came from Mahon in Spain and was nicked by the French in 1756. The French reckon they had it for ages before that. They say it was named after the Duke of Mayenne when he took the time to finish his chicken and mayo sanger before the Battle of Arques in 1589.
But wherever it came from there is general agreement on the recipe. You grab an egg yolk and whisk in olive oil. It’s a cool bit of chemistry for two such simple ingredients. The oil and the water in the yolk create an emulsion which is stabilised by the proteins and lecithin in the yolk. If you want to get all fancy you can drop in a bit of mustard or lemon juice to give it a sharper tang.
And that’s all there is to one of the yummiest and most widespread condiments in the world today. Except apparently if you are a food conglomerate trying to make a fat free mayo. Given that 80% of the product is fat (Olive Oil) this presents a wee problem. Don’t worry though, there is a solution, pack it with sugar instead.
Goodman Fielder’s new Praise Creamy Mayonnaise is 99% Fat Free. And while the label claims this is ‘Mayonnaise’, the ingredient list doesn’t look like anything the Duke of Mayenne was likely to be using. There is neither egg nor Olive Oil involved in its construction. Indeed the primary ingredient (besides water) is sugar. Here’s the full ingredient list (in descending order of use in the product):
Water (about 70%),
Vegetable Gums (415, 460, 466),
Sunflower Oil (0.8%),
Colour (171, Lutein),
Food acid (citric),
Based on the volumes of each ingredient used, this ‘mayonnaise’ is really just a sugar water emulsion flavoured with a bit of salt, vinegar and Sunflower Oil (0.8% of the total volume – there’s more lemon juice than oil in this baby).
Just for the kicks of it let’s compare the ingredients of the substance labelled as mayonnaise with coca-cola. Coke contains (in descending order)
Water [89%] (tick),
Sugar [10.6%] (tick – but only about a third as much)
Colour (Caramel 150d), (tick)
Food Acid (338), (tick)
Caffeine. (nup – none of that in the mayo-ish stuff, for now)
This white-sugar-syrup (I can’t bring myself to call it mayonnaise any longer) has almost 3 times the sugar content of coca-cola. But unlike coke, it is marketed as health food. It proudly bears an Australian Heart Foundation tick of approval. And that’s a bit odd. Because just last week the very same Foundation re-launched its campaign to ban sugary drinks in schools, hospitals and sports centres and heavily tax them everywhere else. But by now we’re used to this kind of cognitive dissonance (and casual disregard for our health) from the Heart Foundation.
Mayonnaise is a food consisting of fat and egg yolk. The similarity between that and what appears in this bottle of sugar-water begins and ends with the word mayonnaise on the label. It is an appalling abuse of our trust that our labelling laws allow this kind of outright deceit.
If this sort of boondoggle were permitted elsewhere you would be buying petrol made from used chip fat and cotton shirts made of the floor sweepings at the local barber shop (or, heaven forbid, waxing parlour). That kind of carry-on would immediately land the vendor in court, but when it comes to what you shove in your gob apparently anything goes.
Since our food regulators obviously care naught for accuracy in labelling, this example suggests you need to exercise real caution if you plan to buy packaged food. Ignore the front of the pack and peer closely at the ingredient list (bring your good glasses) if you want to have any hope of knowing what’s in the ‘mayo’ you’re being sold.
Of course you could always just buy an egg and some olive oil and get on the end of a whisk for a few minutes. Then you’d know the full ingredient list and the sugar content would be exactly 0.