If you follow health headlines, then you may or may not be aware that in October of 2011, a lawsuit was filed in California by CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) and law firm Reese Richman, on behalf of a consumer/plaintiff Annie Lam. She alleged that General Mills presented certain products - Fruit Roll-ups, Fruit Gushers and Fruit by the Foot as "healthful," when in fact, they are "little better than giving candy to kids." Lamm maintains that despite protestations and a motion filed by General Mills, the company has persisted in a campaign suggesting that the three snacks are "healthful and nutritious" for kids and adults. Yet, the labels showcase trans fats, sugars and artificial dyes, and lack real natural fruit and fiber. General Mills countered in its motion, that on the labels of these various fruit-flavored snacks, there is no "affirmative representation of healthful or nutritious" claims. And in fact, they use the very ingredients the lawsuit discusses as clearly indicating the contrary. HUH???
So the company gets to clearly state on the label that the product is:
- Naturally flavored
- Good source of vitamin C
- Low fat
I see some rather convincing healthy terms and verbage. If I were shopping for healthier snacks, I think I would certainy take note of those four specific statements. If I look further I would then see that it has "loads of sugar, some trans fat (actually trans fat was not noted ecause its level was below the amount that requires disclosure), artificial dyes." Okay, well if I mulled those ingredients I might now be somewhat confused. Is that not a bit outrageous? Well, wait a moment....aren't we as parents supposed to be food detectives? Aren't WE supposed to ensure that the foods we buy and serve to our children is nutritionally sound? Yes, I believe a great deal of responsibility lies on our shoulders, but I also think that foods and snacks, with the kinds of ingredients described, should not be allowed to boast health benefits. And I know there are groups out there that will say, "if its not a fruit or vegetable, be leery, question it, don't buy it." But the reality is that our kids, due to a variety of reasons, will get exposed to these processed foods. So at minimum, I think its fair to expect the policies that govern food labeling to slam companies that manage to find some small redeeming minimal benefit or quality in a food, and shriek that "fact" amidst unhealthy ingredients.
One might say that this type of advertising is especially shameful when you consider that a recent CDC report reveals that "Kids still eat too much sugar," with the additional findings that:
- Boys 12-19 get 16.3% of total daily calories (442 calories a day) from added sugars
- Girls 12-19 get 15.5% of their daily calories from added sugars
- About 40% of those "extra sugar calories" come from sugary beverages
- Overall more intake from added sugars come from foods than from drinks
- Income levels had no effects on amount of sugars eaten
- More added sugars are eaten at home than outside the home
I highlighted in bold typeset the two statements that I think are rather provocative and a bit alarming. We constantly use the excuse that those in lower socio-economic strata have little ability to "afford or sometimes find healthier food," and we blame fast food, vending machines, school lunch programs and other causes as the reasons why childhood obesity is presenting with its alarming statistics. Well according to those two highlighted findings, parents need to "own-recognize-acknowledge" that it's happening on the home front across all socio-economic levels. So when certain political and parenting groups call for sugar to be controlled like other dangerous vices, one may have a hard time arguing that parental rights are being challenged. If the CDC stats are indeed correct, parents then, are part of the problem and someone needs to step in to advocate for the children.
What do you think??
Published On: March 04, 2012