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    Archive for the ‘Lunchables’ Category

    Health Hype on Aisle 5!

    gogurtAh, that ubiquitous marketing tactic known as the “health halo” appears to be multiplying.

    You know the drill.  Take minimally nutritious food, sprinkle one fiftieth of a pinch of “something healthy”, and market the living *bleep* out of said ingredient on the product’s packaging.

    Consider these recently-spotted offenders:

    • Cinnamon Chex.  “With a touch of real cinnamon,” no less.  Cinnamon offers fiber, manganese, and heart-healthy phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Alas, this cereal contains more sugar, oil, and salt than it does the sweet spice.
    • Betty Crocker Quick Banana Bread Mix.  “With real bananas,” the box touts.  The bananas are in there, alright.  As dried flakes.  Right after white flour, sugar, and partially hydrogenated oils.  PS: Each of the finished product’s twelve servings offers up an entire gram of trans fat.
    • Yoplait Go-Gurt Strawberry Splash & Berry Blue Blast portable yogurt flavor-combination packs. There isn’t a single strawberry or blueberry in either yogurt, not even in dehydrated or powdered form.  Instead, we get artificial dyes (the same ones banned by the European Union) and flavors.
    • Oscar Mayer Lunchables Sub Sandwich, Turkey and Cheddar.  This is described as “more wholesome” than previous varieties.  Does this ingredient list scream “wholesome” to you?

    Thank you to Small Bites intern Laura Smith for valuable assistance with this post.

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    A Problematic Solution

    Although Kraft’s self-created Sensible Solutions sticker (used to denote healthy products) can point consumers in the right direction (like with 100% whole grain Triscuit crackers), it is also used in some questionable manners.

    One example? Lunchables Maxed Out Pepperoni Pizza.

    This item boasts a “Sensible Solutions” sticker on the basis of being “a good source of protein” and “a good source of calcium.”

    The latter nutritional claim is valid, but the first one is irrelevant in a country where protein deficiency is practically unheard of.

    The average child’s lunchbox may be low in fiber and potassium, but with protein being found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, dairy, soy products, meats, and even vegetables, I don’t think parents need to start scouting supermarket aisles for high-protein foods.

    What truly puzzles me, though, is the presence of a Sensible Solutions sticker on a product that contains 850 milligrams of a sodium (a third of a day’s worth), 35 grams of added sugar (thanks to the inclusion of an Airhead candy and a Kool Aid flavor pouch meant to be mixed with the included bottle of water) and a paltry two grams of fiber!

    This is the problem with self-defined corporate criteria — no one is overseeing the rubric to ensure it only pertains to healthier options.

    My suggestion? Set up these criteria so that, in order to carry a Sensible Solutions sticker, a product needs to have at least ‘x’ amount of nutrient “A” while simultaneously limiting nutrient ‘B’ to ‘y’ amount.

    Otherwise, as I saw for myself at the grocery store yesterday, KoolAid can carry a Sensible Solutions sticker simply because it is fortified with vitamin A and vitamin E!

    Right, because nothing says “sensible” like 16 grams (4 teaspoons) of added sugar per 8-ounce serving.

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