Posts tagged “nutrition”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Industry-Backed Label Calls Sugary Cereal a ‘Smart Choice’ – The program was influenced by research into consumer behavior. That research showed that, while shoppers wanted more information, they did not want to hear negative messages or feel their choices were being dictated to them.

    “The checkmark means the food item is a ‘better for you’ product, as opposed to having an x on it saying ‘Don’t eat this,’ ” Dr. Kennedy said. “Consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn’t have the checkmark, by implication it’s not a ‘better for you’ product. They want to have a choice. They don’t want to be told ‘You must do this.’ ”

Grocery store rating system for food nutrition

The Hannaford grocery chain has developed their own ratings system for the nutritional value of grocery products. From this story

A New England supermarket chain has developed a 1-to-3 star nutritional rating system that flunks most of the foods consumers think are good for them.

After plugging 27,000 products into its system, the Hannaford Brothers chain found that 77 percent of the foods failed to receive even one good nutrition star, The New York Times reports.

Hannaford said many of the processed foods advertised as being healthy failed to gain a star because they contained too much sodium, sugar or fat.

Most fruits and vegetables earned the highest rating of three stars along with salmon and high-fiber cereals.

Making its debut in September, Hannaford’s rating system puts the chain in the awkward position of judging the very products it’s trying to sell. In fact, most of Hannaford’s own store brands failed to get any stars, the Times said.

“We are saying there are no bad foods,” Hannaford spokeswoman Caren Epstein told the newspaper. “This is a good, better and best system.”

Hannaford’s nutritionists acknowledge their system is more stringent than the guidelines used by the Food and Drug Administration.

A couple of things of note here. First, the subjectivity of any measuring and rating system means that establishing standards will always be tough. The challenge to non-nutritionists to understand the complexity of ingredients, preparation, nutrition, etc. is enormous. I would suggest it’s impossible. Do multiple layers of ratings systems help or hinder? And related, is the second issue, where a retailer (a food retailer, even) is assessing the quality of the products they are selling. If a product is packaged and branded as being healthy, but it’s label is in opposition to how many stars it receives, will there be pressure on Hannaford to back down? It seems that this is healthy for consumers (so to speak) but may be a retailing nightmare. I hope they stick to their guns, but I wonder if other channels would be so bold. The online world has brought us a lot of customer reviews that obviously can be quite critical, but does that work in a bricks+mortar setting when the negative assessment comes from the bricks+mortar itself?

Serving Good Intentions by the Bowlful – New York Times

The New York Times looks more closely at the “alternative” breakfast cereals, including where the money goes, what ingredients they contain, what those ingredients do or don’t deliver, and who really owns these companies.

General Mills owns Cascadian Farm, and the name behind Kashi is Kellogg. Barbara’s Bakery is owned by Weetabix, the leading British cereal company, which is owned by a private investment firm there. Mother’s makes clear that it is owned by Quaker Oats (which is owned by PepsiCo). Health Valley and Arrowhead Mills are owned by a natural food company traded on the Nasdaq, Hain Celestial Group; H. J. Heinz owns 16 percent of that company.

The cereals sold under the Peace label are owned by Golden Temple, a for-profit company owned by a nonprofit group founded by the late Yogi Bhajan, who made his fortune from Yogi Tea, Kettle Chips and a company that provides security services.

Of the companies that made the cereals tested, only Nature’s Path, a Canadian company, has no parent company.

Don Sayles, a retired manufacturer and typical New York skeptic, was recently shopping in the cereal aisle at a Whole Foods in New York. He buys alternative cereals ‘because we believe the hype to a certain extent about whole grains.’

No Sugar Tonight – No Difference

Snipped from original story

Experts who reviewed the lower-sugar versions of six major brands of sweetened cereals at the request of The Associated Press found they have no significant nutritional advantages over their full-sugar counterparts.

Nutrition scientists at five universities found that while the new cereals do have less sugar, the calories, carbohydrates, fat, fiber and other nutrients are almost identical to the full-sugar cereals. That’s because the cereal makers have replaced sugar with refined carbohydrates to preserve the crunch.

Officials at General Mills, Kellogg’s and Post were unable to explain why the new cereals are a better choice, but noted they give consumers more options about how much sugar they eat.

Company officials said they were responding to parents’ demands for products with less sugar and that they aren’t claiming these cereals are any healthier than the originals.

That may not be obvious to consumers.

On some boxes, the lower-sugar claim is printed nearly as large as the product’s name, and only by carefully comparing the nutrition labels of both versions of a cereal would a shopper know there is little difference between them.

“You’re supposed to think it’s healthy,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and author of a book critical of the food industry’s influence on public health. “This is about marketing. It is about nothing else. It is not about kids’ health.”

Only one cereal, General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch, saw a true calorie reduction, dropping from 130 calories to 120 per three-fourths cup serving.

The reduced-sugar versions of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops; General Mills’ Cocoa Puffs and Trix; and Post’s Fruity Pebbles all have the same number of calories per serving.

Blame the calorie woes on crunch. To preserve cereals’ taste and texture, sugar is replaced with other carbs that have the same calories as sugar and are no better for you.


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