A bread-and-but­ter is­sue

The in­gre­di­ent list on Ir­ish but­ter is not long, but the calo­ries are high

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Health Nutrition - Rose Costello Read­ing La­bels

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

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