Pizza, cake, vinegar… Find out all the products that changed their recipe due to lack of sunflower oil

This leek pie you’ve been buying for many years hasn’t tasted the same for a few days. Your discerning taste has not deceived you: one of the ingredients has already been modified. On May 20, 2022, the Fraud Suppression (DGCCRF) authorized the manufacturer to replace these crispy fried onions in sunflower oil… with raw onions. And that’s without modifying the packaging, except for an obscure “DEROG” printed near the expiration date.

Since April 26, the composition of more than 2,800 supermarket products has been changed, without correcting the list of ingredients on the packaging. interpretation? The Ministry of Economy granted an exception to manufacturers in order to be able to quickly get rid of or replace sunflower oil, which experienced a shortage due to the war in Ukraine. The mainly concerned products are ready meals, Appetizing biscuits, food items from the bakery section or from fishing, then soups, sauces and condiments.

How can you be notified of these changes that are not printed on the packaging? Franceinfo invites you to browse the search engine below, based on data from DGCCRF, where You can find all relevant references in French supermarkets. You can search for a specific food using its name, brand, and barcode number, or some type of alternative product, such as rapeseed oil.

Of the 2,833 references collected in this database, the vast majority of products now contain rapeseed oil, mass-produced in France, instead of sunflower oil. Other oils, such as coconut, palm and soybean, are also used, which can reduce the nutritional and environmental values ​​of the products in question. Finally, some manufacturers have sometimes decided not to replace lost oil or to look for other alternatives, on a case-by-case basis.

The 2,833 label exemptions noted above must still comply with certain rules. Once approved by the authorities, the restriction is valid for six months, and re-examined after three months. At a minimum, the words “DEROG” (for an exception) must be affixed to the packaging within two months and no later than June 26, 2022.

Some modifications are also subject to specific, stricter rules. For example, tAny added allergen, gluten, or even GMO-derived ingredients must be clearly and legibly labeled on the packaging. Finally, the list of all these mods is published online and available via the QR code displayed in the store.

“I can only welcome the authorities’ efforts to be transparent, even if all is not well.”

Camille Dorioz, campaign manager for the NGO Foodwatch

in franceinfo

A framework that generally satisfies consumer advocacy organizations. With one exception: “We have a point of contention about the display in the storeAnd the Olivier Andrault, Food Project Director at UFC-Que Choisir notes. We asked that the revised product list be clearly displayed on the shelves. However, this was rejected by distributors. There is a downside that other NGOs share. “No one searches for their products on the DGCCRF website while shopping”adds Camille Dorioz.

In the vast majority of cases, sunflower oil has been replaced by rapeseed oil. A nutritionally beneficial alternative, rapeseed contains less saturated fatty acids. And so Carrefour’s leek sauce goes from Nutriscore E to D, thanks to this substitution.

Conversely, other products have experienced a deterioration in their nutritional properties without informing the consumer. This is the case of Netto’s Mascarpone Tiramisu. Replacing sunflower oil with coconut oil, which contains more saturated fatty acids, decreased its food stock from C to D. Tokapi brand brines suffered the same rating due to the replacement of sunflower oil with palm oil, which is richer in saturated fatty acids. Which is used criticized by environmentalists.

A lack of sunflower can also affect the quality of eggs. This is the case with some Auchan brand chests. ‘GMO-free food is no longer foolproof for some chickens’The distributor confirms to franceinfo. This important consumer information is then written on the packaging through an additional tag. More anecdotally, some products have also seen the Dijon mustard that they contained disappear, due to a lack of sunflower oil. This is particularly the case with Benedicta aioli, where water and vinegar serve as a substitute.

In all, DGCCRF estimates that only 1.3% of the exceptions received involved a modification in the Nutriscore and that only one additional allergen was declared in a provisionally modified product. Drop in the vicinity of supermarket references. “It is clear that the impact on French consumers is less than in countries where shortages of essential foods such as grains affect”Olivier Andrault reassures.

Transparency towards the consumer can still be improved. “Distributors and manufacturers have not used all of their communication powers to inform consumers of these changes.”, confirms Camille Dorioz. DGCCRF refers specifically to the major national brands, not all of which have modified the ingredient list displayed on online ordering sites.

The issue of controls also remains unresolved, while fraud prevention inspectors will remain cut off from their work in the coming months: After the food, the Ministry of Economy services plans to address, soon, the exceptions granted to cosmetics that are also struggling to meet the shortage of sunflower oil.

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