Stouffer's Peddling 'Food Porn' to Kids
"Maxaroni" Pairs Mac & Cheese With Fried Chicken Nuggets
WASHINGTON— If a food company were trying to get barked at by the nutrition watchdogs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) it would do something like this: Mix up some fatty macaroni and cheese. Deep-fry some chicken nuggets. Pair them together in a microwaveable tub. Brand it with its own kid-friendly rebellious cartoon spokesperson. Breathlessly plug the “Games Inside!”. Mission accomplished, Stouffer’s: You are peddling the “Food Porn” panned in the April issue of CSPI’s 800,000-circulation Nutrition Action Healthletter.
“Junk food at restaurants, junk food at schools, and thanks to Stouffer’s, junk food at home,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Why can’t Stouffer’s use its marketing smarts to interest kids in whole grains, beans, or vegetables? Remember this product next time you hear a food industry spokesperson put all the blame for obesity on parents.”
The Maxaroni line also pairs macaroni and cheese with fried fish sticks, or inexplicably, cheese pizza. (“White flour and cheese with a side of white flour and cheese,” says Jacobson.) Maxaronis have six to eight grams of saturated fat and 400 otherwise-empty calories.
“Stouffer’s says ‘nothing comes closer to home,’ and that’s true, if home is a greasy chain restaurant with an unhealthy kids’ menu,” Jacobson said.
Not everything that comes out of the freezer and into the microwave has to be bad for you, according to CSPI. Healthy Choice’s Flavor Adventures line offers grownups low-fat frozen entrees like Roasted Chicken Chardonnay, Beef Merlot, and Chicken Tuscany, which earned CSPI’s Right Stuff rating.
Food Porn and Right Stuff appear on the back page of Nutrition Action Healthletter. Subscription information is available at www.cspinet.org/nah.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).