MasterChef stars Gregg Wallace and John Torode have criticised foods which misleadingly “sell themselves as healthy” and said they are perplexed by the “clean food” trend.
Gwyneth Paltrow has published a new cookery book on “eating clean”, which steers clear of everything from dairy to “nightshades” such as tomatoes and peppers.
Asked what they thought of “clean food” and detox diets, Wallace, 54, replied: “Well, I don’t know what dirty food is!”
And Torode, 53, told the Press Association: “I don’t know what retox food is. If you detox what about retoxing?!”
Wallace criticised supermarkets for “almost brainwashing” shoppers into thinking that cooking was a problem.
“I went around the supermarket a little while ago and it had a sign up. This is almost like brainwashing… It had a big label and it said ‘meal solutions’,” the MasterChef judge said.
“I wasn’t aware that a meal was a problem that needed solving. But if you constantly tell people that they need solutions they are constantly going to think it’s difficult.”
He added: “I’ve got a real issue with foods that sell themselves as healthy and aren’t.
“I’ve got no issue at all with someone going out and getting a doner kebab or ordering a burger because you know exactly what that is.
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“It’s when you’re buying recovery shakes and yogurts and breakfast cereals and breakfast bars sold to you as fit and healthy when they obviously aren’t.
“Have a look at all the foods sold as healthy and look at the amount of sugar and fat in them.”
The presenter said: “You would have to consume more than six McDonald’s cheeseburgers to consume the same saturated fat as you would in some yogurts. In some pasta sauces there are up to eight tablespoons of sugar… That makes me angry.”
And Torode said some foods were losing their texture.
“For your body to actually acknowledge you are eating something, you have to acknowledge you are really eating something. So much now we don’t acknowledge we are eating…,” the Australian-born star said.
“Certain food stuffs don’t have any texture… Next time you go and buy from that place you order a larger size because the last time you ordered it you weren’t satisfied with what you had.
“If you had an apple and chewed it and heard the noise and everything else, you would be satisfied with it.”
Wallace, who is expecting a new baby with his wife, said he wants to see children learning to cook at school.
“The biggest problem, seems to me, a complete lack of cooking ability in the home. It’s no good some people saying, ‘It’s lazy parents’.
“We are now a few generations in. Those parents don’t know how to, some grandparents don’t know how to.
“For a number of years the emphasis has been on labour saving and we’ve lost the skills. We desperately need to get that back.
“If people aren’t cooking from scratch there seems to be an over reliance on foods which are already prepared and many of them seem to be high in salt, sugar and fat.
“It’s a chronic issue. I don’t think we can put the responsibility just with the schools. But if we gave an hour a week, for every child from age five to 15, that would be a lot of basic cookery.”
BBC One culinary competition MasterChef is returning for its 15th series, searching for the best amateur cook.
Contestants will have to succeed in tasks such as the The Market Challenge and the The Critic’s Test to be crowned MasterChef Champion 2019.
MasterChef returns on Monday February 11 on BBC One at 9pm.