I’ve oftentimes been accused of being too picky by friends and family members when it comes to eating out. I may have even come off as paranoid or a bit of a conspiracy theorist at times when it comes to food, and I try to explain to them that there’s a method to my madness and my concerns are quite justified. While, I’ve never seen anything as drastic as what the article linked below talks about (but, working in foodservice has made me pay much closer attention to ingredients lists, especially when grocery shopping), I, too, have fallen into the consumer oblivion in the past believing that I can actually trust the foodservice world to serve me what I believe I’m getting–this was one of the first lessons I learned after graduating from culinary school.
One chef I worked with boasted about tossing deer heart from his yearly catch into the roasting pan with customers’ annual Thanskgiving turkey at his restaurant, without informing customers. Not too big of a deal–except, this is illegal in the state of PA as far as I know (http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x975854795/Fur-flies-over-game-meat-sale/print). Oh…and this also means you’re also being served uninspected meat.
As mentioned in one of my previous posts, Hollandaise sauce is rarely made from scratch. The ingredients list on the containers that the Hollandaise “starter” comes in is astonishingly long…mostly additives and chemically names. But, hey, until you read this, you probably thought you were getting actual Hollandaise sauce with your Eggs Benedict, right?
I, myself, have noticed that a lot of sushi joints like to pass-off imitation crab meat as actual crab meat. Humor yourself and compare the two side-by-side sometime. You’ll probably be able to tell the difference every time from there on out.
A lot of restaurants that serve breakfast use liquid eggs to save the hassle of whipping several dozen eggs each day for scrambled, omelets, etc. Some chefs don’t think twice about tossing the separated and leftover egg yolks from a meringue recipe into the batch of liquid eggs. This may not seem like a big deal on the surface (at least it’s still the same product); however, it will add up over time, and the innocent consumer who believes they’re eating a perfectly healthy portion of eggs may actually be getting twice the fat and cholesterol they think they are.
So, why do I continue to ramble on about such issues in various posts? First of all, as a food and nutrition professional, I feel it is my obligation to bring to light that which is intentionally hidden from consumers and may pose a risk to them or that I know they would be unsatisfied with. Foodservice professionals themselves should be obligated to do the same. Consumers have the right to know what they are consuming (literally). Second of all, I personally like to know what I am actually eating. And since it seems so difficult to trust anyone anymore, I find it very difficult to find an establishment I feel comfortable eating at or a food product whose ingredients list doesn’t require constant scrutiny. Consumers shouldn’t have to analyze and decipher food products just to determine if what’s inside the package is actually what is labeled on the front.
I would love to hear comments or personal accounts related to this, so feel free to comment!