Fruitwashing: Kellogg's Phony-Fruity Label Claims

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Pink strawberry frosted pop tarts.  Now there’s a sweet Valentine’s Day treat for the whole family.  Kids love them, and families and college students alike stock up on them for quick breakfast staples.

Even better?  Healthy pop tarts! Right now, stores are selling pop-tart mini crisps in “Special Valentine’s Day Exchange Packs”, and the package boasts that the tarts are a 100-calorie, vitamin-fortified treat.

A closer look shows that the serving size for this 100 calorie treat is less than one ounce (23 grams). It’s hard to believe that many kids, teens, or calorie-counting adults who eat these stop at a single 23 gram packet. In fact, last year the FDA noted its plans to work for more accurate serving sizes on food labels, since food makers are adept at using phony serving sizes to hide the real consequences of eating their overly sugary and/or fatty processed crap.

Kellogg’s wants us to feel like their product is a healthy alternative, so we feel free at last to eat this disgustingly artificial, sugar-filled sweet and not feel guilty about it!  According to this commercial, eating strawberry pop tarts “made with real fruit” for breakfast will give your kid energy to “rise and shine” from eating such a nutritious breakfast!

Let’s look at what’s inside regular strawberry Pop-Tarts. The ingredients list includes (in order by weight):

White flour;

Corn syrup (i.e. sugar);

High-fructose corn syrup (ditto);

Oil; (and if you haven’t had enough sugar…)

Sugar

After flour, sugar and oil, the remaining ingredients each make up less than 2% of the final product. In these “made with real fruit” (in big print on the front of the package) strawberry Pop Tarts, “dried strawberries” finally make an appearance on the (tiny print on the back) ingredient list – after cracker meal, wheat starch, and salt.

In other words, the “real fruit” strawberry Pop Tarts contain more salt than strawberries. But “made with lots of salt” isn’t a very good selling point.

To imply that there’s anything healthy about these tarts because they contain “7 vitamins and minerals” is completely misleading. You could spray a pile of sugar with 7 vitamins and minerals and make the same claim.

The reality is that nothing in these frosted “baked bites” contains real nutritional value.  This “reduced calorie”, vitamin-fortified version of a regular strawberry pop tart is essentially a glorified piece of candy.

Even worse?  These mini crisps contain many of the harmful food dyes that we’ve written about before, linking the artificial food coloring to hyperactivity in children and tumors in animal studies.  Yep, you can find all the nasty artificial food dye culprits on the ingredients list: Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and even Blue 2 (Huh?  There’s not even any visible color that’s remotely blue in these things!)

And the cherry—or should I say strawberry—on top? These “strawberry frosted” pop tart mini-crisps have images of fresh, whole strawberries all over their box, yet they contain no real strawberries whatsoever! Not even the dried nano-strawberries found in the usual Pop Tarts – the crisps are merely strawberry flavored.

If that’s not enough to make you want to stuff that box of mini crisps in the trash, I don’t know what is.

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Ali manages the website and coordinates the online communications of CEH. She works with the communications and development staff to create messaging strategies and public education content for CEH’s supporters and online audience. A Bay Area native, Ali attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received a B.A. in Sociology and Cultural Studies. This allowed her to live abroad in Argentina, where she studied Latin American history and learned valuable Spanish language skills. Ali is thrilled to be part of an organization that advocates for healthy communities so effectively.