A few years ago, Hunt’s Tomato Sauce released a tv commercial touting their redder and richer tomato sauce. Like most normal human beings, I wanted a better product so I checked it out in the supermarket.
When I read the label though, I learned that it had Allura Red (FD&C Red 40). But of course it will be red – it has food coloring, for goodness’ sake! I felt cheated! I thought that the redness of tomato sauce comes from tomatoes’ natural color! Naive, I was! That incident taught me the importance of reading labels and really checking out food products.
There are still times, however, that I assume that I don’t examine the ingredients of a food product because I assume that they are properly labelled. I was living in this bubble of innocence until last week when I read the label of patis (fish sauce).
Because I try to reduce my carbon footprint, I make a conscious effort to buy local products (plus of course, buying local helps the country). We rarely use patis at home but when I need to buy, I buy local. In the supermarket I frequent, there are three brands of patis – Jufran (a Thailand product), Datu Puti (a local product), and Lorins (another local product). Since I am not a fan of Datu Puti, I normally get Lorins patis. Last week, though, I noticed that Jufran’s label boasts that it does not have preservatives. I was surprised since patis is very salty, it did not occur to me that it needs a preservative. So I checked the labels of Lorins and Datu Puti. Ay naku! That was the only time I realized that they are not patis but are “patis flavor”. Yes, “patis flavor” which means it just gives off the flavor of patis but is not real patis. I was super surprised! Pati ba naman patis!
I cannot believe they put caramel on patis to enhance the color – but then again it is not real patis anyway. Haaaaay! Isn’t it sad that an island country such as ours cannot even produce decent and “clean” and real fish sauce? Haaaay!
Ending, I bought the Jufran brand. It was much more expensive, yes, but at least I know that if ever my kids get to taste a bit of the patis (because patis is sometimes used as a seasoning here at home), they are having real patis and not a poor and unhealthy knock off.