Food quality questioned

As the traditional healthy Greek cuisine is gradually edged out of busy lifestyles, experts are warning Greeks about the quality of food they are putting on their tables and point out that locals are consuming about 5 kilos of food preservatives per year. The Hellenic Pediatrics Company (HPC) said yesterday that a number of commonly used food additives have been connected to cancers and that parents should choose their children’s food more carefully. Children eat the food promoted on television – products that often contain artificial coloring, artificial aromas and low-quality fat from vegetable oils, said Andreas Konstantopoulos, HPC president. Poor dietary habits have resulted in three in five Greek children joining the overweight category. Additionally, one in four is estimated to suffer from high cholesterol and diabetes. The problems get a lot more serious when one considers that many food chemicals which have been in the market for a long time are often later withdrawn by health officials, Konstantopoulos added. Scandals involving salmonella and listeria have recently arisen in the food market, sounding alarm bells for consumers. In one case, the listeria bacteria may have resulted in the death of a resident at an Athens retirement home. Food experts also warned about the negative impact too many food supplements can have on growing teenagers. It is estimated that in Greece some 11 million food supplements are consumed every year. Pesticides used by farmers also add to the hidden dangers on the dinner table, according to HPC. Four percent of locally produced agriculture products contain pesticides that can cause problems to the human reproductive and immune system after long-term use. Consumers are encouraged to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables that are less likely to be covered in pesticides.