||And if shoppers in England were
looking for lentil soup, a quick glance
at the labels would tell them that
Campbells is 35 percent lentils while
Heinzs is only 22 percent.
Neither country insists that labels
disclose percentages for every single
ingredient. Thailand requires them
for main ingredients. The UK insists
on them for important ingredients
(ones that are in the name of the food
or are emphasized on the package, for
U.S. consumers get a much fuzzier
picture of whats in their food. Here,
labels list ingredients from most to
least abundant. So shoppers can see,
for example, that Wheatsworth crackers
have more white than whole-wheat
flour. But theres no way for
them to tell that the crackers are only
11 percent whole wheat.
Some labels dare you to read their
ingredients by using brown-on-brown
type or scrunched, all-capital letters,
or other graphics that make shoppers
hunt and squint to find out what
theyre eating (see Dont Forget Your Magnifying Glass).
Worse yet, some companies go out
of their way to trick shoppers by
emphasizing ingredients that are added
in minuscule amounts or arent there at
all. Your only clue: if you see the words
naturally flavored or artificial flavors,
that may be a sign that youre
getting little if any. Here are a handful
of our favorite examples.
|More is Less
More Shrimp, promises the label on Nissin Cup Noodles with Shrimp. More than what? The cups we measured had anywhere from zero to four eensy shrimp, which cooked up to no more than a twentieth of an ounce. Even the picture shows five shrimp. Of course, it also shows corn and scallions. Instead,
we found anywhere from five to 11 peas.
|Broccoli Makes it Big
Broccoli is big in the packaged pasta-and-sauce and rice-and-
sauce-mix aisle. Well, at least the word broccoli is
Pasta Roni adds only broccoli specks to this dish.
True, the small print on the front says Rigatoni with White
Cheddar & Broccoli Sauce with other natural flavors. So
why would the government allow the big print to say
White Cheddar & Broccoli with Rigatoni?
Memo to shoppers: small print is usually more honest
than large print.
|Dyed Apple & Creaming Agent Oatmeal
Quaker Instant OatmealFruit & Cream Varietyis one sneaky cereal.
The Strawberries & Cream oatmeal has dehydrated apples that are dyed
red, but no strawberries. Likewise, the Peaches &
Cream has dehydrated apples that are dyed peach-color,
but no peaches.
|Love That Label
You gotta hand it to Fruit Works. The elegant hues of its labels are to die for. Even the color of the beverage is appealing.
No harsh Hawaiian-Punch magenta here.
And then there are the words. What would you expect from a Strawberry Melon Non-Carbonated Real Fruit Beverage with 100% Vitamin C made by a company called Fruit Works? A bottle of strawberry and melon juice, perhaps?
Heres a hint: Fruit Works is owned by Pepsi. The Real
Fruit Beverage turns out to be 95 percent sugar and water.
Its five percent pear juicethe government requires the
label to say sospiked with vitamins, Red 40 and Blue 1
food dyes, and preservatives. The only strawberries or melons
are in the lovely drawing on the label. Maybe thats
what the label means when it says Naturally Flavored With
Other Natural Flavors.
|Sugar & Palm Oil Bars
Filling Made With Real Milk! exclaims
the box of Chex Milk n Cereal Bars. All
that real milk must explain why the bars
have The NUTRITION of a bowl of cereal
with Milk, right? Wrong.
The nutrition comes from the handful
of vitamins and minerals General
Mills adds to these glorified Rice Krispies
Treats. The milk filling is made mostly
of sugar plus nonfat milk, lactose, palm kernel oil, natural
and artificial flavors, and other additives. And unlike a bowl of most Chex
cerealsWheat, Rice, or Cornwhich have two to five grams of sugar,
each Milk n Cereal Bar has 13 grams. Whats more, a bowl of Wheat
Chex has five grams of fiber. A bar has zip. Bottom line: if you want the
real nutrition of a bowl of Chex with milk, youll have to eat one.
|Stirn Fake Mix
What makes a carrot cake different than any other
cake? Carrots, you might assume. Not according to
General Mills most famous baker.
Betty Crockers Stirn Bake Carrot Cake Mix isnt carrot-
free. No siree. Carrots (well, carrot powder) is right
there on the ingredient list...last. That means Betty
adds less carrot powder than salt, cinnamon, powdered
cellulose, red food dye, xanthan gum, or other additives.
Includes Everything, says the box...everything
except the carrots.
Strawberries adorn the box of Stonyfield
Farm Strawberry Stratosphere YoSqueeze.
You can freeze or refrigerate each tube
of yogurt and eat it without a spoon.
But you neednt worry about strawberries
getting stuck in the tube.
Instead of fruit, Stonyfield adds beet
juice concentrate and natural flavors. If
you look closely, you can find the words
Naturally Flavored in navy blue type
thats hard to distinguish from the fade-to-
Never any artificial flavors, boasts
the box. Never any fruit, either.
Campbells Healthy Request Chicken
Noodle Soup has 30 percent less sodium
than Campbells regular
and its 98 percent
fat free. Its also 98
expect a whole serving
of chicken in a
bowl of chicken noodle
soup. But you
might expect more
than 1 1 /2 teaspoons
worth in the entire
can, which makes
two and a half servings. If you want a
soup with more chicken, check the label.
If its got only two grams of protein per
serving, youre getting at most a quarter
of an ounce of chicken.
|>> Dont Forget Your Magnifying Glass|