Health & Food

Label Lies, Crappy Foods in Disguise

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Yeah, I know this is a repeat picture, but I had to post it on Halloween!

Today and tomorrow I will be talking about food labels. They are a big issue right now, and I believe you can never know too much about them.Would you feed your child, or yourself for that matter, bagel-fuls for breakfast or a snack, and think to yourself “I’m making a healthy choice, or a “better” choice?” . With 200 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, and very few health benefits (10% calcium and 10% iron among them), these Bagel-fuls are just glorified junk food if you ask me. Yet, they proudly display the “Smart Choices” logo on the front of the box, providing parents, adults, and children a false sense of security. If this is a smart choice, what isn’t smart choice?

Another example is Cocoa Puffs. The first ingredient, whole grain corn, does a nice job of providing the consumer with a whopping 1 gram of fiber. The second ingredient, sugar, does an even better job of providing the consumer 12 grams of sugar. Personally I like to look for no more than 10 grams of sugar for my morning meal. Let’s not forget the serving size is 3/4 cup, which is not much. So I’m confused, what makes this a “Smart Choice”?

If you haven’t read about the smart Choices controversy yet, click the link and enjoy. For a review, the Smart Choices program uses “science-based” guidelines and criteria to select the foods on the market that are “smart choices”. This program was designed to help consumers make better choices at the grocery store. While the concept is great, it seems to be a bit misleading.

My last example is the new Fruit Loops, with FIBER! Check out the ingredients;

Ingredients

SUGAR; WHOLE GRAIN CORN FLOUR; WHEAT FLOUR; WHOLE GRAIN OAT FLOUR; OAT FIBER; SOLUBLE CORN FIBER; PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (ONE OR MORE OF: COCONUT, SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OILS)†; SALT; SODIUM ASCORBATE AND ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C); NIACINAMIDE; REDUCED IRON; NATURAL ORANGE, LEMON, CHERRY, RASPBERRY, BLUEBERRY, LIME AND OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS; RED #40; BLUE #2; TURMERIC COLOR; YELLOW #6; ZINC OXIDE; ANNATTO COLOR; BLUE #1; PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6); RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2); THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1); VITAMIN A PALMITATE; BHT (PRESERVATIVE); FOLIC ACID; VITAMIN D; VITAMIN B12.

I actually made note of the fact that SUGAR is the first ingredient to the lady at the FNCE conference in Denver. She was flustered, to say the least. And if you go to the website you’ll notice some fun recipes they have provided for you to create with your Fruit Loops. More Smart Choices here; crispy ice cream sandwich sundaes, crunchy pudding squares, fiesta cookies, lovely!

I’m not going to turn into some really strict RD who says no to everything, but the thing that really makes me mad is that these claims are misleading. Most of you are very good at reading labels and understanding what is “healthy” and what is not, but the lay public may not know much about food labels, which is why programs such as Smart Choices were created! Unfortunately when a program is created by a food company, it will be created in a way that will allow it to include many of their own products. Too bad.

Question: What are your thoughts on the Smart Choices program? Do you think there is a better solution? Personally I think cereals and other products should be required to highlight the “good” and the “bad”. This way people could actually learn what to look for. If ALL companies did this, it wouldn’t hurt anyone’s sales. The companies could also provide advice such as, “mix this cereal with a small handful of bran flakes to add more fiber to your breakfast!”, for their products that are lower in fiber, like the Cocoa Puffs. Or, “Add some fruit to your cereal to add more vitamins and minerals!”, etc.

Coming Up: Stay tuned for some foods that may be in YOUR cabinet and which may be tricking YOU (they tricked me!).

Giveaway Update: Check out the blog makeover giveaway over at the Zesty Cook ! I hear he does an amazing job, plus I’ve seen some of his work and it’s very impressive.

Tonight Nick and I are taking his mother out for dinner, as it’s her 35th wedding anniversary (and Nick’s dad passed away a couple years ago). Everyone have a spoooooky GOOD DAY! Thanks for reading.

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