If you want chilli flavouring, the do-it-yourself option is a much healthier choice.

A reader alerted me to the fact that she had bought some smoked mussels - not this brand - and was upset to find that the producers had used colouring. When she wrote to them, they told her that they had to add colour to give the mussels the "old-fashioned look" consumers wanted.

I found these in the supermarket fridge next to plain smoked mussels. I, too, was a little upset to see that they had artificial colours and flavour added.


Smoked mussels (perna canaliculus) (72 per cent)

This tells you that these mussels are New Zealand green-lipped mussels (perna canaliculus).


Chilli sauce (28 per cent) (water, tomato paste, thickeners (1442,415), chilli, acidity regulators (260, 270, 330) spices, colours (129, 150), flavours)
The mussels are packaged in a bright red sauce. Unfortunately, it's the sauce which pollutes them. As well as additives such as hydroxyl-propyl distarch phosphate (1442), xanthan gum (415), acetic acid (260), lactic acid (270) and citric acid (330), it contains two artificial colours and artificial flavour.

One of the artificial colours is allura red (129), which was included in a voluntary phase-out called for by Britain's Food Standards Agency. An EU-wide health warning must now be put on any food or drink that contains this colour as it is thought to cause hyperactivity in some children.

The other colour is caramel (150), made by heating sugars with sulphites or ammonia - it is unclear which caramel this is. Then there are flavours - no mention of natural so we can safely assume they are artificial.

These taste quite sweet. Per 90g serving - half the pack - you will get 7.9g, or just under two teaspoons, of sugar.

You'll get 401mg of sodium per 90g serving.

My recommendations

We all love green-lipped mussels, and they are very good for us, delivering protein, omega 3, selenium, iron, vitamin B12, iodine, magnesium and calcium. They are also low in fat and make a great snack.

I suggest you buy the classic smoked mussels made by the same producer. With those you'll get only mussels, oil, sugar and salt.

Then you can find a good chilli sauce with no additives. A tip here - go for Mexican-style sauces, such as a chipotle, that will go well with the smoked flavour of the mussels.


These sauces tend to have fewer additives and more real ingredients than the Asian style chilli sauces.

Open the mussels, smother them in the good chilli sauce and you will have avoided a whole heap of additives as well as artificial colouring and artificial flavour.

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