Word on The Street: Flora Cuisine, or what not to use for frying

If you want to know where the big money is, watch Coronation Street. This is prime time television so only companies with massive budgets can afford to advertise during this slot.

I’m a life-long fan which means I’ve been watching adverts for junk food for longer than I should admit to, though I do feel smug that I have always remained impervious to their charms. Even so, the dross on the screen before, during and after my beloved Corrie has always been a source of irritation. What sort of food philistines do these advertising executives think we CS fans are? Ready-meals feature strongly, as do breakfast cereals and snack foods. I don’t really mind the ads for junk food which are not pretending to be anything that they are not; sometimes they are quite entertaining. It’s the ones that present themselves as public health broadcasts, doing us all a favour, that are most vexing.

Especially galling is Flora Cuisine – “For the Hearts you Love”. It’s full of the usual flannel but with more lather than Corrie itself. Vernon Kay’s mother has been engaged, together with her son, to persuade us that this product is a healthy alternative to olive oil. She tells him/the UK that Flora Cuisine has 45% less saturated fat than olive oil, as if that were a good thing. She’s about to cook a stir fry for her strapping lad. If she really wanted to do him a favour, she’d cook that stir fry in extra virgin olive oil, or perhaps some butter, or even a combination of the two. These fats remain stable when heated. But no, what she’s using is a blend of mainly polyunsaturated oils: sunflower seed, rapeseed and linseed oils together with stabilisers, preservatives and emulsifiers. This is the last thing you should use for frying. That much has been known for a long time; in 2001 researchers looked at twenty years’ worth of studies and concluded that heating cooking oils, especially polyunsaturated oils, poses serious health hazards. These findings were published in a food industry journal, so not likely to have escaped the attention of Unilver, makers of Flora Cuisine, and their ilk.

Frying these oils generates large amounts of free radicals, the sort that are well known to be very, very bad for the heart. But very good for business.


Grootveld, M., Silwood, C.J.L., Addis, P. et al (2001) Health effects of oxidized heated oils. Foodservice Research International, 13(1):41-55.





8 Responses to Word on The Street: Flora Cuisine, or what not to use for frying

  1. kathie says:

    Did you know that the Margarine Becel has just been attacked by the German Foodwatch organisation and is being forced to remove any claims of health benefits from its labelling and advertising?

  2. Maria says:

    No, that’s interesting. Do you know what the margarine contains? Though I can guess.

  3. kathie says:

    I found the news article in English

  4. Vicky Brown says:

    Quite apart from the health issues, that advert is incredibly annoying anyway!

  5. Maria says:

    Good article – seems a bit extreme to insist that these products are sold in chemists only, but the food industry does need reining in. They are more than a little creative with their health claims.

  6. Sharon Jamieson says:

    I wrote to Unilever a few months ago complaining about this advert. Very very irresponsible of them! I think it is utterly criminal! I got a lame reply back from them quoting a piece of cherry picked research that “supported” their claims. Unbelievable!

  7. Maria says:

    Yes, you can find a study to support any ridiculous hypothesis you care to create. The best way to complain about an ad is via the Advertising Standards Authority but in this case I don’t think you’d stand a chance. After all, it is true that Unilever’s awful product does have a lower saturated fat content than olive oil, which of course is not the point.

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