Friday, April 20, 2007

Well Said

“Of course, the Food and Drug Administration should be the one policing food labels, but the agency is so short-staffed and dysfunctional that officials won’t take action even when a neatly wrapped complaint is handed to them with a ribbon around it and a bow on top,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael F. Jacobson.

Well said. I love brual honesty. It's so ... refreshing. The quote relates to CPSI's step into the arena of actually bringing suit to companies that make exaggeraged or false nutritional claims on their packaging. Companies that have been the target of CSPI suits over labeling include; KFC, Enviga, Pinnacle Foods, Frito-Lay, Quaker and Tropicana.

The CPSI has also informed the FDA of additional labeling issues for the following foods:

  1. Gerber Graduates for Toddlers Fruit Juice Snacks -- despite packaging pictures of oranges, cherries, and strawberries, the main ingredients are corn syrup and sugar.

    "You can guess why Gerber doesn't call these things Corn Syrup Snacks-no parent would buy them," says Bruce Silverglade, CSPI director of legal affairs. "This is candy, not fruit juice."

  2. Betty Crocker Super Moist Carrot Cake Mix -- The only carrot ingredient is "carrot powder," which is the 19th ingredient listed, behind artificial color, salt, and dicalcium phosphate.

  3. Smucker's Simply 100% Fruit -- Both the strawberry and blueberry versions have more fruit syrup than fruit. The syrup comes not from berries but from less-expensive apple, pineapple, or pear juice concentrate.

  4. Kellogg's Eggo Nutri-Grain Pancakes -- the label indicates pancakes are "Made with Whole Wheat and Whole Grain," but the pancakes are made primarily with white flour and have more high-fructose corn syrup than whole wheat or other whole grain.

  5. General Mills' Yoplait Light Fat Free Yogurt -- the label claims to the product will help burn more fat. However, the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has called the evidence on dairy products and weight loss inconclusive.

  6. Quaker Oats Pasta Roni -- the label name refers to White Cheddar & Broccoli, showing pasta and pieces of broccoli. Broccoli appears on the fourth line of a 14-line ingredient list, and there are only small bits of the vegetable in the actual dish.
"Food manufacturers are shamelessly tricking consumers who are trying to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains," said Silverglade. "Too many processed foods contain only token amounts of the healthful ingredients highlighted on labels and are typically loaded with fats, refined sugars, refined flour, and salt, in various combinations."

Amen. And thanks to the CSPI for standing up for us all.

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