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Name that deception.

Berry Tricky

"Looking for a good, wholesome kids' cereal? Berry Berry Kix is a wise choice," says the ad. "That's because it's made with natural fruit flavors, real fruit juice and less sugar than most kids' cereals."

They've gotta be kidding.

It's bad enough that General Mills has taken ordinary Kix and ruined it by pouring on sugar and corn syrup. Does the "Big G" also have to pretend that the spin-off is as healthy as the original?

Like Honey Nut Cheerios, Rice Krispies Treats, and Honey Gold Wheaties, Berry Berry Kix is sweeter than its namesake. At 32 percent sugar, it may have less than many kids' cereals. But that's only because some hit a ridiculous 50 percent sugar.

Worse yet is all that hoopla about fruit juice. it's enough to make unsuspecting consumers think that Berry's sweetness comes only from juice. Ha!

Each cup has less than a fifteenth of a tablespoon of grape juice and even less strawberry juice concentrate. As for the natural fruit flavors claim, we figure it's there to distract people from noticing the artificial colors, which are worse for kids than artificial flavors.

You can fool enough of the people enough of the time " must be the motto at some food companies' ad agencies.

They sure try. No matter how hard the Food and Drug Administration cracks down on misleading food labels, ads can say pretty much what they please. That's because they are regulated by the slow-as-molasses Federal Trade Commission.

Not only has the FTC refused to adopt the FDA's new labeling rules, it typically takes months or years to investigate suspicious claims - often acting long after the ads are history.

This month we expose some of the food industry's latest deceptions. At least they won't fool you.

Ensurance Scam

"Ensure is a delicious drink with all the nutrients adults need to stay healthy, active, be energetic," says the ad featuring a healthy older and her adult daughter. "Ensure is even recommended # 1 by doctors as a source of complete, balanced nutrition."

Doctors may recommend Ensure, but not for the people pictured in this ad. Until recently, the vitamin-fortified soy-based drink was fed only to the very old or very sick, usually under a physician's orders and often through a feeding tube. in short, it's for people who can't eat or can't eat enough.

Now mufacturer Ross Laboratories is trying to expand Ensure's market to all adults. When the daughter says "To your health, mom," apparently healthy Mom replies "Uh-uh. Our health, dear."

There is something that most adults can consume to stay healthy, active, and energetic. It's called food. No one who can eat would want to drink a liquid formula instead, especially one with 250 calories and nine grams of fat in each cup.


"She's got great muscle tone," croons the ad. "Baby soft skin, bright eyes, a healthy grin... Whoa. What is this stuff? It's ordinary, everyday, often-fatty milk.

According to the American Dairy Association, milk's got vitamin A to help keep skin smooth, calcium for strong bones, and protein to help build muscles."

True, severe vitamin A deficiency damages skin, but vitamin A won't do a thing to prevent skin problems in well-fed Americans.

And it's exercise, not protein, that builds and tones muscles. Heaven knows, if the higliprotein, american diet built muscles, we'd be a nation of Arnold Schwarzeneggers.

Milk will help strengthen bones. But whole milk is so high in saturated fat that the FDA won't allow its labels to claim that calcium can help prevent osteoporosis. Unfortunately, it's the FTC, not the FDA, that regulates ads. Congratulations, American Dairy Association. You pulled another fast one.

Yes, But How Much?

Antioxidant are in the news...and for good reason. Though the evidence isn't conclusive, it makes sense to take beta-carotene and vitamins E and C to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and cataracts.

So Lederle's ads for its multivitamin-and-mineral Centrum are sure to get attention: "Centrum contains the complete antioxidant group...more complete from A to zinc," they promise.

Only one problem: you don't get much. Centrum's got 30 international Units (IU) of vitamin E, but in recent studies, only people who took at least 100 IU had a lower risk of heart disease. Centrum's got 60 milligrams of vitamin C, but it takes 250 to, 500 mg to saturate the body's tissues.

And in several ongoing studies on heart disease and cancer, researchers are giving people 25,000 IU of beta-carotene. Centrum's got only 1,000 IU...and the label mixes it in th vitamin A, so you can't even tell how much - make that how little - you're getting.

Whether antioxidants "strengthen the body's natural defenses against cell damage," as Centrum claims, is still debatable. But if Lederle is going to claim that they do, it ought to at least provide a generous dose.

More Fibs Than Whole Wheat

"More fiber than whole wheat bread," crows the ad for Wonder Light breads.

How could that be? Wonder's Light White, Italian, Soft French, and Sourdough are made of refined white flour. And its Light Wheat, 9-Grain, and Honey Bran breads have far more white flour than whole wheat.

Soy and oat fiber, my dear Watson. Wonder adds them to each of its Light breads. Are th better or worse than whole wheat's fiber when it your risk of constipation, colon cancer, or heart disease? No one knows.

But one thing's for sure. Whole wheat bread - even Wonder's - is better than these mostly-white-flour "light" breads. It's richer in vitamins E an

pan- tothenic acids, zinc, copper, chromium, magnesium, and manganese.

Many people don't know that, of course. They think fiber is the only reason to eat whole wheat instead of white. And Wonder is doing its best to take advantage of that misconception.

Secret Ballot

"Recommended by 9 out of 10 pediatricians, " boasts the ad for Yoplait Custard Style Lowfat Yogurt.

Impressive. Sounds like nine out of 10 pediatricians tell parents at regular check-ups, "I'd like to see Jimmy eating more Yoplait Custard Style Yogurt, Mrs. Thompson."

Well, not exactly.

The small print says, "In a recent survey of more than 600 pediatricians, 9 out of 10 said that they would recommend Yoplait Custard Style Yogurt for children."

Ah, so the doctors only recommended Yoplait when they were asked. Okay, but exactly what were they than chocolate ice cream?

"As I am sure you understand, testing, surveys, or research we do for our products is highly proprietary," Yoplait spokesperson Lore Kolberg told us.

For the record, Yoplait is no better or worse than any other lowfat sweetened yogurt. Guess that's not enough to sell it.

The Other

White Lie

"A boneless pork loin chop is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than the same size skinless chicken thigh," says the National Pork Producers Council. Lower, huh?

The pork chop has only five fewer calories than the thigh. Talk about trivial.

The pork chop is lower in fat and cholesterol, but there's a catch: The ad neglects to say that the Pork Producers are using figures for a surgically trimmed loin chop. Trim it less than orator technicians and you may end up with four percent more fat in the pork chop than the chicken thigh.

Any time you see "The Other White Meat" slogan, you can bet the Pork Producers are comparing the leanest cut of pork with the fattiest cut of chicken. Just remember that the average cut of trimmed pork has about 25 percent more fat than the average piece of skinned chicken... and that fat-laden spareribs were conveniently left out of the average.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:deceptive advertising by the food industry
Author:Liebman, Bonnie
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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