Cereal companies are worried. Sales are down, in part because yogurt, bars, and other grab-and-go foods are gaining ground. Who has time any more to sit down and pour a bowl of cereal, for gosh sakes?
To win shoppers back, cereal makers are doubling down on the buzzwords that attract health-conscious consumers. That means you’ll have to bring your “A” game to the supermarket because these wily marketers will promise you nutritional gold and try to sell you tin.
Want breakfast cereal that’s “fruity,” “real,” “carefully selected,” “fruitful,” “wholesome,” and “whole grain?” The companies know you do. Then be skeptical about what they’re claiming on their labels.
Here are some examples:
- Kellogg’s Special K Fruit & Yogurt has berries on the box, but only dried apples and synthetic red 40 and blue 1 food dyes
inside. And the “yogurt” is cultured milk that has been “heat treated,” which kills the yogurt’s cultures.
- General Mills Fruity Cheerios has more oil (1½ grams) than either of its two fruit ingredients: pear purée concentrate and fruit juice (the juice is added for color).
- Kashi Organic Berry Fruitful has more grape juice concentrate, corn starch, and apple powder than any berry purée concentrate.
- Quaker Real Medleys SuperGrains Blueberry Pecan granola has more brown sugar and oil than pecans, and more corn starch than quinoa or blueberries.
- General Mills Strawberry Tiny Toast that’s “flavored with real strawberries and other natural flavors” has more corn starch than dried strawberry purée.
- Kellogg’s “Whole grain” Special K Red Berries has white rice is its first ingredient.
- The “wholesome multigrain flakes” in Quaker Real Medleys Peach Apple Walnut Multigrain Cereal are a “medley” of refined rice and wheat flour.
The bottom line:
- Verify claims by checking the list of ingredients, which are in order by weight.
- Unless the label says “100% whole grain,” assume it isn’t.
- You’re better off adding your own fruit.
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