Gourmet salt. Think about that for a moment… gourmet salt.
Is it an oxymoron? Salt is salt, right?
Consumer New Zealand is having a flick at this gourmet salt craze, saying although some gourmet salts claim to contain higher levels of essential minerals such as iron and calcium, all salts are essentially the same - they are 100 percent sodium chloride.
Some gourmet salt companies are making claims when their products contain only trace amounts. Not only could the marketing lead to people using more salt in an effort to up their magnesium calcium or iron content, they will pay up to 50 times the regular price for the privilege.
Consumer NZ believes the claims may even fall foul of the labelling rules under the food standards code.
Is there any other such basic product that has been massaged by the spin doctors to the extent of gourmet salt?
I'll put my hand up as being one of those sucked in. Sitting on the kitchen bench at home is pink Himalayan salt, which is said to have curative properties due to the presence of 84 trace minerals.
I wonder how much salt I need to ingest for it to make a difference.
Sometimes I guess we need saving from ourselves.
There have been some outrageous claims about food throughout history. Coca-Cola in its first incarnation was claimed to be a most wonderful invigorator of sexual organs, and besides impotence it could also cure morphine addiction and dyspepsia.
"Guinness is good for you" was the famous ad for the Irish beer, its iron content the reason it was given to post-operative patients and pregnant women. The catch? You would need to drink three pints to get as much iron as in one egg yolk.
The American Sugar Association used to advertise in the 1950s that sugar could help you diet by sating the appetite faster. And don't even begin to figure out how a Mars bar a day helps you work, rest and play.
These days the rules are stricter about what benefits your products can lay claim to. It should be so much harder these days to make outrageous claims, and yet still we are getting sucked in.
Originally published on 5 April 2017.
Mark Sainsbury hosts Morning Talk from 9am-midday on RadioLIVE.