Food Laws & Awareness in Brazil
Friday 6th December, 2019
As a keen food allergy advocate I got in touch with Elisa from Brazil to learn what restrictions are in place to protect allergy sufferers in South America.
Elisa has extensive experience with catering for customers with different dietary restrictions. This is due to her previous ownership of a gluten free bakery. Since Elisa ensured her bakery was free from wheat she had to ensure that no cross-contamination occurred. This was solely her responsibility. Elisa pointed out to me that there are several ways supervision and inspection takes place in Brazil. These procedures are conducted by the Public Authorities. Due to her due diligence and efforts to never allow cross-contamination, Elisa soon discovered that the subject of allergies, including cross-contamination needed to be taught within schools. This was because there was a lack of comprehension as to the scope and severity of food allergies amongst other customers and the public in general.
Elisa now runs and works day to day for a catering company for schools. Unfortunately, this role has provided complex challenges. Elisa and her team were keen to cater for children as they believed they would be an easy clientele to please. They came up with great ideas to provide sugar free snacks, and replace current recipes with wholegrain ingredients. Some of their recipes sound delicious. Elisa mentioned they created cakes made from gluten free oats and dark chocolate. They also offered a variety of wheat free brownies and natural juices with no added sugar, just the fructose from the fruit. Elisa and her team really ensured that their menu contained no fried foods and nothing had been industrialised. This was an important strategy they wanted to implement as the current level of obesity and cardiovascular diseases in Brazil is very alarming.
Unfortunately, these delicious recipes did not remain on the menu for very long. Parents and even school teachers complained that their menu did not contain enough salt and sugar and so the children felt as though they were not eating the same foods they had at home. Instead Elisa and her team had to use white flour instead of gluten free options and sugar. However, they did not want to be fully defeated and so they thought outside of the box and currently use the least refined sugar there is available on the market. They also source their raw materials from local farmers so there is less chance of refinery. Elisa has succeeded by including chia seeds as a source of iron and fibre into their snacks though as she said the children haven’t even noticed!
Yet I was shocked to hear these were the requests of parents and teachers. I thought of Brazil as a healthy country which takes their health very seriously. Although after hearing from Elisa’s account it appears that there is no public awareness of nutrition due to the lack of education in this subject. Unfortunately, Elisa pointed out that the lack of awareness of quality food and nutrition also comes from the lack of laws and supervision in place.
Elisa hopes that by raising awareness of food allergies it will encourage the government to change their education system, which in turn will also promote a more general awareness of a healthy diet and the consequences of what may happen should this not be followed.
You can follow Elisa and her food journey via Instagram on @elisacfigueiroa