A recent stroll through supermarket aisles has uncovered even more felonies of deception and extreme processing.
These products are considered armed (with lousy ingredients) and dangerous (for your health). If you spot them, do not approach them. Keep walking.
Stouffer’s is giving farmwashing a try with its Farmers’ Harvest line. The packaging evokes a pastoral sunrise and highlights certain ingredients (i.e.: a red bell pepper, a wedge of cheese, strands of wheat).
Blanched Macaroni Made with Whole Grain (Water, Grain Blend with Whole Wheat Flour [Semolina, Unenriched Durum Whole Wheat Flour], Wheat Gluten), Skim Milk, Water, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color), Cheddar Club Cheese (Cheddar Cheese [Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes], Water, Salt, Annatto Color), Bleached Wheat Flour, Margarine (Liquid and Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Salt, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Vegetable Mono & Diglycerides, Natural Flavor [Milk], Soy Lecithin, Beta Carotene [Color], Vitamin A Palmitate Added), 2% or Less of Soybean Oil, Sea Salt, Potassium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Yeast Extract, Lactic Acid, Calcium Lactate.
Did you catch the whole grain trickiness? This is not a 100% whole grain product, but rather a blend of semolina (refined white flour) and whole wheat flour; based on the order in which those ingredients appear, there is more white flour than whole wheat flour in that blend.
More importantly, I wonder what farms procure partially hydrogenated oils (artificial fats made in a laboratory) and ‘natural flavor’. The meat lasagna variety contains caramel color (a suspected carcinogen), an ingredient I have yet to find at any farmers’ market.
Over at the cereal aisle, leave it to PepsiCo-owned Quaker to turn something as healthful and nutritious as oatmeal into a highly processed disaster. Case in point: Quaker’s Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal Fruit & Cream Variety Pack.
Here, too, we have some ingredient sneakiness going on. The front of the box prominently features a: “50% less sugar than our regular oatmeal” statement. What isn’t quite as evident is the presence of artificial sweeteners (Splenda, to be exact).
The ingredient list includes sucralose — the generic name for Splenda — but most consumers don’t know the popular artificial sweetener by that name. Why isn’t there a large Splenda logo on the box, or at the very least a clear mention that this product contains artificial sweeteners?
The strawberry and peach pieces aren’t strawberries or peaches, by the way. They are actually dehydrated apples (treated with sodium sulfite) mixed with artificial flavor. In the case of the “strawberries”, petroleum-derived Red Dye #40 is tacked on. You know, for “realness”.
Both products also contain partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats in oatmeal? What is the world coming to?
The ingredient list states they are present in a “dietarily insignificant” amount. However, these oils appear before sodium, which is present at 190 mg per packet. We can therefore conclude each packet of oatmeal contains at least 190 milligrams of these oils (of which a significant part are trans-fatty acids). Considering that the recommendation for trans fat is zero, “trivial amounts” are not reassuring.
Remember, one of the most comprehensive studies on trans fats — published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 — concluded that:
On a per-calorie basis, trans fats appear to increase the risk of coronary heart disease more than any other macronutrient, conferring a substantially increased risk at low levels of consumption (1 to 3 percentof total energy intake).
In other words, man-made trans fats are to be avoided, not consumed in “dietarily insignificant amounts”. FDA, are you listening?
To make matters worse, the actual oatmeal (fruit aside) contains artificial flavors and is partially sweetened with corn syrup, thereby adding a genetically modified ingredient to a whole grain food that is otherwise not genetically engineered.
Update: Thank you to reader Hannah, who points out that even Quaker’s plain instant oat packets contain caramel color. Please, Quaker, let oats be oats!
Please consider sharing this all-points bulletin with your loved ones so their health is not unwillingly compromised.