You may not have noticed it - I know I didn't - but the pressure from hordes of angry letter-writers must have been intense as Heinz, the multi-national conglomerate, the fourth largest food company in the world, the supplier of ketchup to 200 countries, are changing their recipe.
For the first time in 40 years, Heinz ketchup is changing its famous recipe - by lowering the salt content in an effort to appeal to more health-conscious consumers, the company said yesterday.Of course, as a private company they are fully entitled to. But their claim that they are appealing to a groundswell of public opinion isn't really the case, is it?
There is no uprising from the public, no crippling reduction in sales as customers flock to more healthy alternatives. Nope, precious few have demanded this, and the precious few are almost exclusively state-funded public health advocates.
Jackson said the company had been planning the change for about two years. But it is coming just as Mayor Bloomberg and other politicians are leaning on big food companies to kick the salt. Heinz was one of 16 major food manufacturers that last month signed onto the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a plan led by Bloomberg to get companies to cut back on the salt in their products.It's state bullying of a private enterprise, pure and simple. Reduce your salt, or we will legislate to force you into it. No-one asked for this except the tax-sponging righteous who constantly seek to dictate how you live your life. Those who believe they have the right to tell you what you should put in your own body, and if you don't comply, they will contrive to leave you no other option.
Now, New Yorker Bloomberg, the guy who wants smoking banned in public parks, is a hideous dictatorial scumbag, but don't ever think that we in the UK can be in any way blasé. The same bansturbatory elements over here have been dreaming of this for quite a while.
Heinz ketchup, Kellogg's cornflakes and a host of traditional foods from Cornish pasties to Stilton cheese are under pressure to slash their salt content. The Food Standards Agency says radical action is needed to cut salt in a vast range of popular foods. More than 14,000 people are dying each year because we are overdosing on salt, it claims. Bread, ready meals, cakes and savoury snacks are also under scrutiny.The capitulation of Heinz is a major scalp. It's the significant domino which authoritarians worldwide have been praying for. Other companies will soon fall into line once they realise that even a massive company like Heinz has been brought to heel.
There are, of course, available alternatives for those who truly care about salt content, as the Guardian reported in October.
Customers searching for the healthy options on supermarket shelves may be better-off choosing the cheaper deals, according to a study which has found that own-brand and "value" ranges have the lowest levels of salt.Fantastic for the salt-averse, then. Not only are the lower salt options easy to source, they are also cheaper. But it's not enough, you see, because the popular brands (that is, the ones which everyone likes) are still serving those who really couldn't give a toss one way or another as long as it tastes nice, and that just won't do for any self-respecting righteous hector.
OK, maybe that was a bit harsh. I mean, perhaps some who don't like salt would really love to buy Heinz ketchup but can't because of the salt level, and feel they are missing out. It's not fair, they might argue, that Heinz are forcing them into a Hobson's Choice on the country's favourite ketchup.
Well, no. That doesn't hold true either, because Heinz already produce a low salt and low sugar version of ... Heinz ketchup. It's pictured above and can be bought from every supermarket in the UK.
The choice is there already. For everyone. But some (in fact, the majority) are bound to choose incorrectly, so there must be no choice at all. Nanny knows best and you cannot be allowed to wriggle out of her all-encompassing net.
Or maybe I've just been talking with my tinfoil hat on. Perhaps Heinz really do see this as a marvellous opportunity to ride the wave of popular opinion. But if so, they have a funny way of publicising it.
Marketing strategists are surely thinking back to the days of New Coke, a massive PR failure, but the Heinz ketchup reformulation has some important differences. For one thing, the catalyst for the change would appear not to be PR but rather public health. Spokeswoman Jessica Jackson told the Post that the company was keeping "the needs of our consumers and our commitment to health and wellness" in mind. The other major difference is the lack of a glitzy ad campaign. Bottles containing the new recipe will have no hint on the label; customers will have to look at the nutritional data in order to tell the difference.Err, how will all these health-conscious customers, who have been feverishly calling for this measure, know it's happening?
Well, they won't as they don't exist to any significant extent. But at least the loyal Heinz customers, in the main, will be blissfully unaware so sales won't be hit as Heinz dance to the selfish, holier-than-thou, public health tune.
If, however, you prefer your food untainted by government interference, I'm afraid your preference doesn't count. Your choice must be eliminated ... for your own good.