Because they think you’re an idiot

Another Daily Mail question we can answer:

Neither of these ketchups contains gluten. So why are we charged 50% more for the one labelled gluten-free?

And given that the stuff sells they’re probably right, you are an idiot.

20 thoughts on “Because they think you’re an idiot”

  1. Having had a wife who is coeliac, I can suggest why “gluten free” – if it’s genuinely gluten free – is premium price territory. When the description is “hypersensitivity to gluten” it means “being in the room where someone once ate a chocolate eclair”. So they don’t want to be eating stuff where there’s any chance of cross contamination from other, non gluten free, food processing going on. Running production lines in isolation is expensive.

  2. This in a nutshell is the decline of Western civilisation over the last 70 years – the granting of constant demands for idiots to be protected from their own stupidity.

  3. Incidentally, we have here, a single incidence where woo is beneficial. The fad for thinking non-coeliac sufferers are in some way harmed by gluten has meant there’s been a widening of the stuff available the genuine victims can get. And afford. Having, by necessity, had to live on a gluten free diet before the fad kicked in, well done woo merchants.

  4. The best Chambers definition:

    nice adj. foolishly simple (obs.): wanton (Shak.): coy (Milt.): over-particular: hard to please: fastidious: forming or observing very small differences: calling for very fine discrimination: done with great care and exactness: accurate: critical, hazardous (arch.): easily injured (obs.): delicate: dainty: agreeable, delightful, respectable (often used in vague commendation by those who are not nice, also sometimes ironic).

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    It is market segmentation. You need to find that bit of the market that will pay a bit more for something special. If you slap some random labels on them and see what sells, a label that says gluten-free might well work.

    Personally I would try a “not tested on animals” label. It is almost certainly true after all. Maybe “Animal-cruelty free”.

  6. I would hazard a guess that a ketchup not containing gluten does not actually fully meet the legal definition of ‘gluten free’. I’m sure there are loads more hoops which have to be jumped through in the production process, indeed an almost completely separate production process.

    Hence the extra cost. Plus they make less of it, of course.

    That’s my guess.

  7. The market for fussy eaters is women. And they’re not stupid. Not exactly. They’re just gullible when it comes to products based on “all natural” stuff that’s supposedly “better” for the children and/or fluffy little animals.

    My wife loves all that organic, free range, gluten free, GM free, untouched-by-human-hands, prepared-by-bonobos shit.

    Thank goodness Harry Enfield’s Seen You Coming shop isn’t located nearby, or she’d be spending all my money in there too.

  8. bis and Rob are right, of course, certification or printed claims are more important to a shopper than having to judge ‘technically no gluten in this product, so it’s ok to buy’.

    But I would disagree that the fad has helped coeliacs. Rather it has increased the demand and the price. There may be a greater range of options, but the faux ‘sufferers’ out there have driven the market to the point where the people it really matters to can’t trust a menu.

    I live in a fairly hipster neighbourhood, and it’s de riguer for local cafes and restaurants to label items on their menus as ‘gluten free’. That’s fine, but do they really keep separate sets of pots and pans for the meals? I doubt it. They mean the ingredients, and not the cookware. So what was that point about the expense of separate production lines again?

  9. @ltw
    “But I would disagree that the fad has helped coeliacs. Rather it has increased the demand and the price.”
    Complete & utter rubbish. Before the gluten free fashion craze kicked a box of groceries were: some rather dingy biscuits £3/250g, a loaf of g/f bread – small & tastes like cake – £4, g/f pasta £3/small packet. (These are at mid ’90s prices) And that as it, really. End of. Tomato sauce would either be a forbidden dream or make it yourself.
    Now there’s all those forgotten pleasures, sitting on the shelf with the wheatsheaf symbol at a mere 50% mark-up.
    Economy of scale.

    “The market for fussy eaters is women. And they’re not stupid.” F****g right they’re not, Steve. Sussed this one, years ago. With the exception of the ex – & I had dark suspicions about her – fussy eating’s a way of staking out territory “If Caroline’s coming for dinner, I’ll have to do vegetarian because she won’t even look at meat” Cue Caroline simpering happily, whilst everyone else chokes down Quorn. Caroline’s the one used to choose the tartare de boef until she found the way to manipulate herself to the center of attention.
    Not saying it’s just women. I’ll have a bet with you. The Murphaloon’s a fussy eater. He’s got it written all over his fat, self satisfied face..

  10. Is it unfair to see a bit of a correlation:

    fussy eater = spoiled working class brat?

    That’s “fussy eater” as distinct from someone with genuine health problems/allergies/intolerances.

  11. The gluten issue, like many similar ones, can be explained or dealt with by the simple statement that now accompanies all the food prepared in our internal kitchen

    may contain nuts

  12. As someone that suffers a severe reaction to red-40 I can state that it is almost impossible to separate it from the food chain. It is far to easy for situations like the red bees of Brooklyn to introduce cross contamination. Similarly the “gluten-free” label doesn’t mean there isn’t any gluten. All it means is no gluten was directly used. Thus gluten-free label is a regulator approved marketing scam. The masses don’t bother to understand the true meaning. It’s simply believed that it is true and those foods must be healthier and so pay more.

  13. There are, or should be, two distinct things: No Gluten-Containing Ingredients – which means exactly what it says, and Gluten-Free – which means that it’s been tested for how much gluten there is in it, and it’s below some magic number, which means that it’s safe even for people with actual proper coeliac.

    Even if the GF and NGI are the same, the testing costs money. And generally, GF has to be made in a factory where the whole factory is NGI, where you can make NGI in a factory where flour is used.

    If you’re like me – eat a sandwich, and you’re fine, eat one everyday for a week and you’ll have the shits for three days – then NGI is fine, and the label doesn’t matter, you just have to avoid things with flour in.

    If you have actual coeliac, though, then the proper GF classification matters.

  14. My dad, as a chemist for the Department of Agriculture (and then, for the Food and Drug Administration) wrote the methods for the detection and measurement of arsenic and heavy metals
    in foodstuffs (and drugs) for them and, later for Smith, Kline, and French.

    He had a saying, apparently well-known in the days before I was born: “Everyone’s got to eat a peck of dirt before they die.” I remember annoying him, when I was about 8 or 9, by asking “Does that mean that dirt is everywhere and that one can’t help eating quite a bit of it during a lifetime” OR that one can lengthen one’s life by minimizing the amount of dirt one consumes?”

    It seems that, today, there are very many people allergic to peanuts (and peanut butter). I’m quite sure I never heard of such an allergy until the late ’70s, when my kids were in high school.

    Four friends and I were on a camping trip. All were out, hunting for various wildlife (snakes and lizards) while I was busy preparing a pot of soup for lunch. One, returning to the campsite, yelled (at me) “Get your dirty finger out of that pot of
    soup!” To which I replied, “My finger ain’t dirty at all.” (holding up my hand to show that, although my arm and hand might be dirty and soot-covered, my finger was, indeed, “clean as a whistle”). He told that to about 50 or 60 at his 80th birthday party late last year.

    I’m a subscriber to the sentiments expressed by a 15th or 16th-cenury English poet whose name I can no longer recollect:

    “Most of the troubles that we poor mortals know
    From doctors and too-close inspection flow.”

  15. I decided to eat apples for a week in some sort of “health drive” about five years ago. My usual perfectly regular digestive system was disrupted by being almost perpetually sat on the toilet.

    So apples are out, except for processed ones (apple crumble and cider).

  16. Bloke in Costa Rica

    This isn’t new. The sunflower oil I buy is proudly labelled “0% cholesterol”. Things of which it is also free include, inter alia: plutonium; witch hazel; cobra venom; a fragment of the True Cross; litotes, zeugma and chiasmus; a DVD of The Magnificent Ambersons.

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