Fresh basil in a tube- convenient product or something to put back on the shelf?

We are seeing more and more convenience products enter the food market; as our lives get busier and there is push to have foods available all year round, new products come to market to save people time when cooking and also to ensure the foods they want to cook with are available. Today I will be talking about basil in a tube!

I have written a number of blogs looking at convenience products that have surprised me in when browsing in the supermarket e.g. pre-packaged ham, seasoning and spicesΒ and guacamole in a tubeΒ ; these blog are to help bring awareness to the nutrition components of these foods and also give advice on if and when they can fit into your weekly eating patterns.

Well here is another product which surprised me… stir- through herb pastes! Basil to be precise.

So I sent hubby into our local supermarket to buy some ingredients for dinner and in the absence of fresh basil (they had run out) he came out with ‘fresh herbs’ in a tube- also known as stir-in herb pastes. I was curious- are these ok to replace fresh chopped herbs in cooking? The front of the tube says ‘contains 3 bunches of herbs’… so sounds like it could.

Fresh basil in a tube- convenient product or something to put back on the shelf? - Basil in a tube
Fresh herbs in a tube

A quick look at the ingredient list and I was very disappointed…

Only 55% basil… what was the other 45% in the tube then?

Further scanning of the ingredient list showed second ingredient was dextrose (sugar), then oil, and then a range ofΒ other ingredients including salt, and thickeners.

So basically basil, mixed with sugar, fat and salt!

Now I understand that for some of the ingredients listed they will be there for stability and preservative reasons, however a question to ask is if the salt, sugar and fat is not all there for stability and preservative reasons then why is it there? This product should be replacing fresh herbs- you can add sugar, salt etc. as you please in your cooking if you so wish. But it is when these ingredients are in products when customers aren’t aware and are not necessarily needed, then I don’t think these products are helpful.

Also the nutrition information panels suggests that 1 serve is 5g and within this 5g there is 1.2 g of sugar (1/5 teaspoon) and 114mg of sodium (which is 2270mg/100g!!!) This is a lot of sodium for a product considering we should be aiming for products with less than 120mg/100g! And the sugar content can quickly add up if more than 5g of product is used!

Just another example of why it is important to read the nutrition labels on food. If you are confused by all the information on food labels then make an appointment with an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) – so you can sift through all the information on a label.

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