Challenge To Food Industry
Michelle Obama challenged the food industry and the FDA to come up with consistent, front-of-the package labels “that give people the information they’ve been asking for, in a format that they understand.”
The food industry put their collective thinking caps on. One idea would display “Nutrition Keys” on the front of the label. This is to give consumers the information they need at a glance. These keys will show how much sugar, saturated fat and calories are contained per serving.
There’s another system proposed by Food Lion and Hannaford supermarket chains. They have designed a star system, depending on their nutrient profiles. NuVal is a system that rates processed food from one to 100: the higher the number the better the food.
Grace doesn’t believe for a minute front-of-the-package labeling will be helpful or even truthful.
While each idea has some merit, the truth is food processors will continue to use the front of the label to convince consumers their processed food is somehow more nutritious than the next.
Where’s The Blueberries?
Jane Faus, from the Feingold Association, sent me a link to a humorous look at food labeling. “General Mills Mind Games” is a comedy skit about Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal. A fictitious customer calls General Mills to complain that there are NO blueberries or pomegranates in the cereal. The representative of GM replies, “How is that our problem, sir? Our cereals are labeled according to federal law.” (Click Here to view the video.) You get the drift. The consumer goes on to state that if you purchase blueberry pomegranate cereal, one expects to get blueberries and pomegranates in the cereal. But no, it seems that’s just the product name.
The actual ingredients of Total Blueberries and Pomegranates Cereal are:
Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Barley Malt Extract, Brown Sugar Syrup, Wheat Flakes, Malt Syrup, Rice Flour, Salt, Oat Flour, Whole Grain Rice, Canola Oil Natural and Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Blue 2 and Other Color Added, Soybean and Corn Oil Sucralose, Molasses, Honey, Corn Starch, Almond Flour, Nonfat Milk, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin E Acetate, a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), a B Vitamin (Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), a B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin A (Palmitate), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.
Notice there are NO blueberries or pomegranates found in the ingredients. Artificial flavors and colors are added to trick the consumer into believing they are eating a real food. Whole grain oats is listed as the first ingredient and whole grain wheat the second. What could be so wrong about that? When you add the sugars together (sugar, corn syrup, brown rice sugar syrup, malt syrup) the first ingredient is NOT a whole grain at all, but sugar. The nutrients they boast about are mostly synthetic vitamins, which have been added to compensate for the ones lost during the process of manufacturing.
What’s The Truth?
New info on the front of the package will not help consumers. Processed food producers are in business to make a profit. Most don’t care about your health. The truth is all processed food is lacking in nutrients. If it has been processed and comes in a bag or box, it’s not real food. Sad to say, real food is mostly found in the produce department…if it’s organic. The food industry can’t monitor itself. Don’t think for a minute that the FDA will do any better. You must become your family’s health advocate.