Remember when vegetarianism took off in the late 90s and suddenly more products graced shelves prompting buzzwords like "natural", "all-natural", "whole", "fresh", "low-fat", "sun-kissed"? Then gluten became something to watch out for and the stores were filled with gluten-free versions of everything. People had to wisen up and develop an eye to sift chaff from the wheat (pun intended) by reading food labels, taking each health claim with a grain of salt and staying informed.
The Hong Kong paleo market is a new but becoming more lucrative: Like most followers of health diets paleo people are usually willing to pay more for high quality food. And like its bigger brother in the US there is always the chance that questionable products will want to enter the market. Hong Kong has witnessed its fair share of unscrupulous companies selling questionable products to unsuspecting consumers, lying about their products composition for a bigger profit margin. There will be food companies which if left unchecked will ride the paleo money wagon too hard without any regard what those actions will do to the wagon or the people
The basic rule of economics is that you find (or create) a demand and then you satisfy that demand with your supply. So what would paleo people want? Of course it would be a paleo version of the food they had to give up with its absence having left a tiny whole in their culinary hearts. For many people (me included) that would be bread. There are many amazing paleo bread recipes out there. But the gift of baking has eluded me and has been entirely passed down to my younger sister. Additionally like many paleo people I prefer to stay low to moderate carb as I still suffer from the "once you pop you cannot stop" syndrome aka recovering sugar junkie.
Not only would low carb paleo people benefit from this but also people who turned to the paleo diet because they had diabetes, celiac disease or other auto-immune diseases.
Yet more googling revealed more posts about the fake low-carb bread. Deborah Krueger, a pre-diabetic, went so far to send samples of several low carb Julian Bakery breads to the an independent lab which revealed that the net carb were 3-14 times higher than indicated on the label which would be shit move towards low carbers and especially diabetic people.
Here are the major findings from that Exova lab testing of the SmartCarb #1 bread:
Total carbohydrates are 43% higher than claimed (13 vs. 23)
Dietary fiber is 50% less than claimed (12 vs. 6)
Net carbs are 17 times greater than claimed (17 vs. 1)
Protein, like fiber, is 50% less than claimed (12 vs. 6)
When Krueger made her findings public Julian Bakery sued her on grounds of defamation and slander. But later Julian Bakery stopped selling those 21 breads in question.
Another blogger Jimmy Moore, a well known low carber in the paleo scene, reported that FDA investigation found ‘Significant Violations’ in Julian Bakery Paleo Bread. I went to the FDA site and under the section "Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations" found that at the end of this July the FDA has issued a warning letter towards Julian Bakery (which by the way is also using the name “Paleo, Inc.” and owning multiple trademarks incorporating “Paleo” or “Primal” in the name). Here are key passages
Your Paleo Bread product is misbranded [...] because the labeling bears a nutrient content claim, but does not meet the requirements to make the claim. [...]
Specifically, your website at http://www.julianbakery.com/ bears the claim “high protein,” but, according to the product labeling, does not meet the criteria to bear this claim in accordance with 21 CFR 101.54(b).
Your Paleo Bread product does not qualify to make a "high protein" claim because your website and the product label for your Paleo Bread, which bears the website, declare 7 g of protein per 43 gram serving, which is less than 20% of the DV for protein per 50 g RACC.
[...] The above violations outlined in this letter are not meant to be an all-inclusive list of deficiencies in your product or their labeling.
So is Julian Bakery's Paleo Bread really paleo? Assuming that the ingredients lists are correct and there is no other hidden nastiness, HEALTHY paleo people who have achieved their maintenance weight should have no nutritional issues with eating Julian Bakery Bread once in a while. View it like a treat or maybe grey-area Wonder Bread. But if you suffer from an auto-immune disease like diabetes enjoy at your own risk as you can still belong to the 15% of diabetics who will have to increase their insulin after the consumption of Paleo Bread. If you still do want to give it a try feel free to let us know your thoughts.
Yet this is not only about how low carb or how paleo a loaf of bread is. With paleo still growing in Hong Kong we are pretty much starting with a clean slate. Our choices as paleo consumers have a bigger impact on the territory. We have the power to decide which paleo products are bound to stay. And we should want products from companies we can trust, which believe in being paleo. Companies who do not pimp up their labels or fudge the numbers of their nutritional values so that they can possibly charge us paleo premium prices like HKD 140 for a loaf of bread without any regard what false labelling can do to the health of some of their customers. In Germany we call companies like that rotten eggs. And rotten eggs are not really paleo.
*UPDATE 13.Oct'14: Julian Bakery informed me that they have taken the "high-protein" claim off their website. They also advised me not to believe in everything what is written on the internet and to do my own research. I have therefore re-edited this post keeping in mind that I have not yet done any hands-on research myself. Although I'm currently in the middle of another paleo project there will be a follow-up post concerning this matter.