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Serenely unhealthy

Serenely unhealthy


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By Luis E. Sabini Fernández

The medicalization of consumption, of society in general, has, however, its limits, which a legal enterprise cannot avoid. Not those of vitamin deficiencies, then, but those of excesses.

There are companies with a vanguard vocation. Without a doubt.

Examples are given among the world's leading laboratories. They have discovered that the market for healthy people is considerably larger than that for sick people and therefore, with the strategy of always getting ahead of “the competitors”, deliberately confusing the new with the good, with an always innovative spirit, they are lining up their propaganda guns and ideological to persuade growing sectors of the population not to ingest medicines to cure themselves (something that has been highly problematic, because the largest category of diseases nowadays are those caused by medicines, precisely) but medicines or “pre- medications ”so as not to get sick. That the slogan coincides with reality is quite another story.


In the Argentine business community for cutting-edge issues we are not going to be left behind. The main dairy producer has put its steps in the same line as the laboratories dedicated to curing those who are not sick, it is worth the oxymoron. Dedicating itself to fortifying all its fluids or more or less solid masses with minerals, various bacilli and vitamins. For what selling a product with more and more additions always "looks". Although health suffers. Health, precisely what is invoked to defend ...

The last scream in this "uplifting" fever of every food is the addition of vitamin C to milk ... the vitamin that is naturally found in citrus fruits, the dietary pole opposite to dairy.

So now we have milks or yogurts with lactobacilli, vitamins, mineral supplements, to take every day of our lives, because there is the grace of the propaganda destined to turn consumers into dependents for life ...

In this way, substances that would suddenly constitute a contribution after an illness (for example, after receiving antibiotics), when the need to reconstitute the intestinal flora, for example, is significant, become "our daily bread" and can inhibit the endogenous capacity of the body to generate its own health particles, replacing it ad infinitum ...

This medicalization of consumption, of society in general, has, however, its limits that a legal enterprise cannot avoid. Not those of vitamin deficiencies, then, but those of excesses.


And some of the vitamin reinforcements with which we are now overwhelmed not only come from the wonderful products they provide us but also from many other sources ... Legally, a company that "fortifies" its products with vitamins cannot fail to warn the consumer of the danger of excess ingestion of vitamins. (The same should be done with minerals that our bodies do not naturally purge from.)

The Being. How does our main dairy company solve this difficulty? We have not been able to trace in the Buenos Aires gondolas so well supplied with Ser what nevertheless appears in one pot out of every twenty, or perhaps out of every hundred, in Montevideo gondolas (nurtured by the same company, of course): in very small, almost illegible handwriting, in a transparent stick, enlarging the legend with a magnifying glass, we can read: “Food added with [sic] vitamins. These foods have been formulated for children over 36 months. It should be taken into account that in the diet there are other sources of such nutrients. Women of reproductive age [only between 15 and 50 years old ...] or seeking pregnancy and pregnant women are recommended not to consume more than 1500 micrograms (5000 IU) of vitamin A daily for prolonged periods. "

This information does not come from the melodious and persuasive voice that the main Argentine dairy company uses to introduce us all to lacto-dependency, but it clearly turns out then that Being is not intended for children under three years of age ...

Let's see the Danonino. Another "food" contribution and this one expressly dedicated to children. Even the name suggests the tender age to which it is directed. And directed for development, nutrition, healthy growth, of course. Here we have found information on both banks of the Plata. In Montevideo there is a text similar to the one we saw with Ser, which states: "this food has not been formulated for children under 36 months." Suitable, it would begin to be suitable, from the age of four ... that is, when the body has consolidated some of its functions and has learned to defend itself against some aggressions, when the little body is already, even half consolidated ...

Perhaps to formulate this advice is that there are pediatricians in the Danonino configuration, although we have naively imagined that they are to design the "dessert" dietetically.
In Buenos Aires, if one makes an effort to read a Danonino container, the declaration of conditions of use, content and components, one can find out that "children from 4 to 6 years old" get 20% for every 200 gr. protein, 42% vitamin A, and so on. And one is left without knowing if anyway it provides vitamin A and proteins to children under 4 and over 6 years and if so, what. Judging by the "Montevideo" info, they would not be desirable contributions for those who are not "older than 36 months" ...

On the other hand, one reads all its ingredients; "Selected pasteurized skim milk" (depending on the packaging, sucrose or sugar solution, glucose) plus "calcium citrate, starch, artificial flavoring, natural coloring, guar gum" (in other "models" of Danonino, tara gum), " potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, zinc gluconate, vitamins A, B9 ”(in some also B12) and D, cream, sugar,“ calcium lactate, ferrous gluconate, calcium chloride, vitamin E, rennet and lactic cultures. ” We could add that in those who claim to be strawberries "there is sugar, hmaf, starch, ferrous sulfate, artificial essence of strawberry, citric acid, lactic cultures and probiotics." Faced with such a string, one begins to understand why it is convenient for very young children and those who harbor fetuses or intend to take care of such a chemical jungle and pseudo-food ingredients that are mixed with food and whose presence is explained because they sell us non-fresh products .

The presence of transgenic foods is delicately circumvented by calling the high-fructose corn syrup that comes, at least in today's Argentina, from transgenic corn "jmaf." Something that we can also observe in Ser, when the content refers to "modified starch", an elliptical way of referring to genetically modified or transgenic corn starch.

In the jargon that surrounds us consumers, delicacies appear such as: "It does not contain an appreciable amount [sic] of trans fats, dietary fiber." Phrase that unites in its "appreciation" barter a carcinogenic element used during almost the entire 20th century by food industries due to its ease of handling (hydrogenated fats, which do not go rancid) and fibers, which are a fundamental element of quality. food.

We could also say that it is striking that dairy products warn us that they are "Without TACC". That is, without wheat, oats, rye and barley. The striking thing would be rather the opposite: that dairy products contain cereals ...

The presence of "artificial strawberry essence", beyond its sincerity, reveals once again the quality of the product and the esteem they give to the consumer.

The speaker with the persuasive voice never tells us about these "details." There is no wonder. In fact, we would have to wonder why, if he were to tell us about them.

The kingdom of packaging. There are them as small as they contain just 45 grams. presumably edible substance (Danonino). The cost of the package - and the consequent waste - is much higher than the content. Having refrigeration, containers with higher content could be made because they would save materials, reduce social waste. Such tiny containers, they are certainly a big business for the company, if not for society. They allow to increase the prices of the content (by reducing the unit price, the consumer is better tempted) and, incidentally, it allows you to make “consumer information” that is practically a dead letter since a clear effort must be made to understand it.

It would be very good to do a survey among parents who give their little ones Danonino from the earliest age, to find out who has read the instructions about age limits. This type of packaging with its respective information package clearly responds to the old trick of "made the law, made the trap".

There is another aspect of the containers that would be well worth knowing: if the bromatological authorities have controlled the sealing of them. Closing by sealing requires temperatures of at least 120 degrees, and at that height there are practically very, very few plastic materials that resist without their molecules starting a crazy party of movement. Verify then that they do not end up staying in the food that they are supposed to preserve but that they should not contaminate (that they do not "migrate" to the food, as the phenomenon is called among plastic manufacturers dedicated to food packaging, who are well aware of the phenomenon). The smaller the plastic container, the more a difference is felt in the taste of its content compared to that of the packaged food.

Finally, the inability to react, or the ability to adapt, of the presumably bromatological authorities (and the Argentine state in its different spheres, certainly has more than one) draws attention to the shortcomings and confusions that we have outlined. Or maybe it won't even appeal to us, but it should.

* Journalist, editor of Futuros magazine, coordinator of the Ecology and Human Rights Seminar of the Free Human Rights Chair of the University of Buenos Aires, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters.

1 On the manufacture, and placement, of medicines for the healthy, see the enlightening note by Silvia Ribeiro, "The gentlemen of genomics", serv. ALAI, July 20, 2004.
2 Made of plastic material, which is very difficult to recover and, for this reason, constitutes the main source of environmental, aquatic and terrestrial pollution throughout the planet. That not by repeated is little to say.


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