In this ad for their Real Mayonnaise, Hellmann’s (there is no Hellmann’s anymore, it’s actually a company called Unilever) asks the question:
If we knew more about our food, would we eat better?”
Any reasonable person would answer “of course!” And Hellmann’s, um, Unilever, wants to you answer that way, too. End of story. Turn the page.
If you bother to stop and read the copy (which is difficult due to the placement of white type over a yellow background) you find this:
At Hellmann’s, we make our mayonnaise with real, simple ingredients like good eggs, delicious vinegar and oils rich in omega 3. So it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Lean about he Real Food Project at hellmanns.com.
When they say they use good eggs, it’s not clear whether they’re referring to the quality of the eggs or whether they’re stating that eggs are good for you. Either way, I’ll let this slide.
Strangely, they claim to use delicious vinegar. If I asked you to write a list of 10 adjectives to describe vinegar, would delicious make it onto the list? How about a list of 1,000 adjectives? Who considers vinegar to be delicious? It’s acetic acid.
Imagine saying to your kid, “Here, Bobby, I poured you a nice cup of delicious vinegar. Drink it up!”
If you made your kids drink vinegar, social services would come to your house to take them away. The conversation would go something like this:
Social Services: We have a report that you made your son, Bobby, drink a glass of vinegar.
You: Yes, I did.
Social Services: Can you tell me why you did that?
You: Because vinegar is delicious!
The next thing you know, they’d hand you some paperwork with a hearing date and then escort little Bobby out the door where they would take him to a waiting van.
But I digress.
Mayonnaise is really just a fancy way of saying “oil and egg fat.” Here’s the nutritional information, taken from the company’s website:
A one-tablespoon serving contains 90 calories and 90 calories from fat. This is another way of saying that 100% of the calories come from fat. One tablespoon of the stuff has a whopping 10 grams of fat, which is as much fat as four chocolate chip cookies (source: Nutrition Lifestyles).
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise also contains delicious EDTA. According to Wikipedia:
(EDTA) has been found to be both cytotoxic (emphasis mine) and weakly genotoxic in laboratory animals. Oral exposures have been noted to cause reproductive and developmental effects.
Cytotoxic means “toxic to cells.” Genotoxic is a little more complicated. According to Wikipedia:
Genotoxicity describes a deleterious action on a cell’s genetic material affecting its integrity. Genotoxic substances are known to be potentially mutagenic or carcinogenic, specifically those capable of causing genetic mutation and of contributing to the development of tumors.
In other words, EDTA is a potential cancer-causing agent in laboratory animals.
At the bottom of the ad, in tiny print, it says that Helmann’s Real Mayonnaise contains “a small amount of EDTA to protect quality.” Small compared to what?
Is Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise healthy and good? You decide. Then ask yourself this question:
“If we knew more about our food, would we eat better?”
By Marc Librescu