Slim Fast, the makers of diet "meal replacement" shakes, has announced a lactose-free variety called Easy to Digest. It comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Coffee flavors. The product is also gluten-free.
It is not, however, milk protein free, since it contains both caseinate and milk protein concentrate.
All well and good. Most of these products rely heavily on skim milk as a base and are not at all suitable for those of us with lactose intolerance.
Even so, did Unilever - Slim Fast's parent company - have to issue the world's worst press release to announce this?
First, notice that the press release never even gets around to saying directly that this wonderful new product for the lactose intolerant market is actually lactose free. The convoluted prose manages to avoid entirely the issue of what the ingredients for the shake are. (Understandable, since the shakes are basically water and sugar.) And the release contains highly misleading nutritional advice:
Symptoms of lactose maldigestion also tend to develop in all consumers as we age, because the body loses its ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that is needed to digest lactose. For that reason, the new Slim-Fast Easy to Digest shake contains higher levels of vitamins B6, B12 and D, nutrients important for people over 50, and is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamins C and E. Each Slim-Fast Easy to Digest shake provides 50 percent of the Recommended Daily Value (DV) for Calcium, an essential nutrient that is often lacking in the diets of people who avoid milk and other dairy foods due to lactose intolerance.
Just because the body loses its ability to digest lactase, which can happen at any age and has nothing to do with turning 50, doesn't mean that any of the other vitamins are lacking. And a simple multivitamin pill will give you all the vitamins you need. Putting them in a "meal replacement" doesn't mean anything except as promotional hype.
I can't totally blame companies for the nonsense issued by the firms hired to promote its products - it's a game no one in the industry takes seriously - but this is egregious.
If you want to have an occasional Slim Fast shake as an alternative to a meal, I won't try to stop you. At 180 calories the shakes will pack on far fewer pounds than most foods. Just be aware that you're buying expensive sugar water, not a meal.