A bread-and-butter issue
The ingredient list on Irish butter is not long, but the calories are high
The sight of an Irish tricolour on the front of any food packaging sets my label antennae tingling. Is this product really Irish? Or has it just been placed into its box or wrapper in this country? As with all the best thrillers, things are not always as they seem.
By now, most of us will have spotted packaging that seems to contain Irish produce, but doesn’t.
When it comes to butter, however, you can be pretty sure you are getting butter from somewhere on the island of Ireland. There are others, such as Danish Lurpak or Marks and Spencer’s UK offering, but they don’t fly our flag.
Even the German brands Aldi and Lidl sell Irish butter.
Perhaps in recognition of how suspicious consumers have become, Lidl’s Dairy Manor Irish Creamery butter spells out on the back of the packaging that it is “Produced in Ireland using Irish milk”. It uses the word “Irish” eight times on the wrapper just to hammer home the message.
Aldi’s Kilkeely butter uses similar wording. It says it is “Produced in Ireland using Irish milk,” so there can be no confusion.
Better yet, Dairy Manor is supplied by LacPatrick Dairies in Co Monaghan, which also supplies other supermarkets here. On sale beside that is the Champion brand, which is also made by LacPatrick Dairies.
But what else can you tell from the packaging?
As the ingredient lists show, not a lot goes into Irish butter. It’s usually just cream and two per cent salt or less, unlike in other countries such as America where there may be added colour and flavouring.
All that cream, of course, means that there is fat – and lots of it. Butter is about 80 per cent fat, with most of that saturated fat. You can see this from the nutrition panel on Kerrygold, for example, which shows that each 100g of butter has 80g of fat, of which 53g is saturated. So how much is a normal serving? How much would you use on a slice of toast? Those individually wrapped pats of butter that are barely enough for one slice are just 7g.
Heart disease Unfortunately, a diet high in saturated fat is linked to raised LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The World Health Organisation recommends that our total fat intake should not exceed 30 per cent of total calories and intake of saturated fats should be less than 10