Those Blueberries in your Cereal may be Fakes

February 16th, 2011 | Sources: LA Times

Subjects:

In recent years, scientists discovered that blueberries were loaded with anthocyanins, resveratrol, flavonoids and other chemicals that slowed aging and cut cancer risk in mice.

Blueberries have never been shown to have these effects in humans, but the discoveries have nevertheless triggered quite a renaissance for the tasty fruit. In fact nowadays, you can find blueberries in nearly every aisle at the grocery store. You can buy blueberry bagels, blueberry ice cream and blueberry salad dressing for example, in addition their old-time hang-outs in muffins and cereal…and that’s not even counting the fresh, natural berries themselves.

But consumers need to exercise caution when purchasing these products. While many feature enticing pictures of blueberries on their labels, some don’t contain real blueberries at all, according to a recent report by the Consumer Wellness Center.

Take Blueberry Muffin-flavored Frosted Mini Wheats, for example. This Kellogg’s product contains not a whit of blueberries. Instead, it contains “blueberry flavored crunchlets” which are made from sugar, soybean oil, red #40 and blue #2.

Worse yet is the General Mills product, Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal. It contains neither blueberries nor pomegranates.

Many other products contain a trivial amount of blueberries, it’s true, but their recipes contain a host of of artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, liquid sugars and other ingredients that make their products look like they contain a lot more blueberries than they really do.

For example, Target brand blueberry bagels claims to contain “blueberry bits.”  Now, to be fair, the ingredients list does include actual blueberries, but those blueberry bits aren’t made from the real thing. Instead, they’re made from sugar, corn cereal, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial flavor, cellulose gum, salt and artificial colors like Blue #2, Red #40, Green #3 and Blue #1.

This appears to be false and deceptive advertising. Most consumers are under the impression that when they buy blueberry bagels, cereals and so on, they’re buying real blueberries. But real blueberries are expensive. These other ingredients are dirt cheap and have longer shelf-lives.

We’re confident that the FDA will eventually take action on the matter. Until then, consumers need to read the labels on these products. Tip-offs to the deception would be those artificial dyes, red #40 and Blue #2. Chances are that if you see them, you’re buying less blueberries than you think, and maybe no blueberries at all.


 

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