Black pudding ‘superfood’ status was a marketing ruse

The proof of the pudding wasn’t in the testing.

A website which sparked a wave of publicity for black pudding after it named it as one of 2016’s ‘superfoods’ has confirmed that its endorsement of the foodstuff is based on customer search trends, and did not arise as a result of scientific tests.

While MuscleFood.com’s publicity last week prompted widespread coverage of black pudding’s listing as a superfood, neither the original article nor the subsequent coverage cited any specific research used to back up the claim.

“It’s great to have this new research available to find out the hidden qualities in food and we can’t wait to see how these new trends take off,” Darren Beale from MuscleFood.com told the Daily Mail.

However in a statement to the Irish Examiner, MuscleFood.com confirmed that the “new research” mentioned in the piece is actually an analysis of customer searches on its website and not testing of the ‘superfoods’ themselves.

“The research for this piece was done internally by MuscleFood.com, based on trends from customer searches in the last few months, particularly for foods rich in iron and protein,” a spokesperson for Delicious Marketing Group said on behalf of MuscleFood.com.

The spokesperson said that they also spoke to a nutritional expert who said that black pudding can “can provide the body with many essential nutrients like iron and protein all of which are needed as part of a healthy balanced diet”.

Safefood has also weighed in on the ‘superfood’ issue, warning consumers that the term is not a regulated endorsement.

“The term ‘superfood’ had become very popular in recent years and is increasingly being used to market foods to consumers,” a Safefood spokesperson said.

“Labelling some foods as ‘superfoods’ can give consumers the impression that other, more ordinary foods in their diet are not as healthy when, in reality, those foods often provide just as many valuable nutrients as those found in so-called ‘superfoods’.

“It should also be remembered that there is no accepted technical definition of the word itself and no standard that must be met to be included as a ‘superfood’. A simple online search for the word itself gave us almost 10 million results and these were predominantly from health and nutrition blogs, online newspapers, magazines and suppliers of nutritional supplements.”

Safefood also said that while black pudding be high in iron, it is also high in calories, salt, and saturated fat. Safefood said black pudding typically contains almost 300 calories per 100g (or 2.5 slices) and 21.5g fat per 100g, 8.5g of which is saturated.

“It is unrealistic to expect a small range of ‘superfoods’ to significantly improve our health and wellbeing,” said the Safefood spokesperson.

“It should also be noted that in October last year, the World Health Organisation added processed meats [of which black pudding would be an example] to its list when it looked at the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat consumption.”

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