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Kellogg’s recall

June 28, 2010

Apparently Kellogg’s has been having some packaging problems.  According to the NYDailyNews.com:

Kellogg Co. is voluntarily recalling about 28 million boxes of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks cereals because a “waxy” smell and flavor coming from the package liners could make people sick, the company said Friday.

Kellogg spokeswoman J. Adaire Putnam said about 20 people have complained, including five who reported nausea and vomiting. The company said the potential for serious health problems associated with the cereal is low.

Putnam said the lining of the cereals’ boxes produced the off flavor and odor. Kellogg is trying to identify the substance on the liner that’s causing the problem.

The products were distributed throughout the U.S. and began arriving in stores in late March.

I am certainly not going to jump on Kellogg’s for poor packaging, nor jump on them for creating ‘manufactured’ foods.  This can happen to any company it appears, as it happened to Tylenol recently.  Certainly it would be hard to count the many fresh foods such as spinach and lettuce and organic foods have been recalled recently.  No, the purpose of this blog entry isn’t to pile on Kellogg’s for their packaging leeching into the foods and making kids sick, instead it is to continue to pile on to Kellogg’s regarding their totally unhealthy breakfast cereals…

I was sitting here and my brother brought up the thought that 28 million boxes of cereal is an awful lot of cereal, but how much sugar is it?

Well, based on an average box size of 15 ounces (averaged I assume between family packs and regular packs), that means that there is 200 grams of sugar in one box (14.8 grams of sugar per serving, 15 servings per box[using corn pops as the standard])…  Okay that number just stuns me.  Almost a half a pound of sugar in each box (.44 pounds).  Assuming there are no math errors so far, the rest is easy to calculate.  Kellogg’s is recalling 5.6 billion grams of sugar!  Billion! That is so much sugar that it would take over 190 dump trucks heaped full to bring back just the sugar and dispose of it.  What a day for the sugar companies (assuming they aren’t also owned by Kellogg’s).  They also have to bring back and dispose of about as much starch, a complex carbohydrate that easily breaks down into a simple one, and about a pickup truck or two of fibre and protein.

I cannot put enough emphasis on how bad most cereals are for us.  In any case, I don’t have to.  I love infographics, and here is an interesting one, along with a comparison between the marketing of cereals to children and adults.  The fact I find most alarming is that only Auto-Manufacturers spend more on advertising than cereal manufactures.  Actually, that is something that I have seen a lot lately.  Is it just me, or is about every 3rd ad on television about food?  Bad foods too, burgers, fries, cereals, snacks…  I don’t mean to suggest that personal responsibility doesn’t matter, but what if food companies have noticed that they can create an impulse in us to buy and eat incredibly tasty and unhealthy foods, just by showing us pictures…  Do you think that could be possible….  Even if it was, I can’t imagine that the food companies would be so greedy as to make us fatter and unhealthier just to make a few bucks… right…  More on the advertising thing later, right now I want to talk about this sugar thing.

According to that last website, a bowl of cereal has more sugar than a jam doughnut.  This tells me two things.  One, this website must be located in the UK because we call them jelly doughnuts here, and two, there may be a place on earth that actually uses jam in doughnuts, rather than the red sugar liquid that we use.  I am actually curious to know what real jam inside a doughnut would taste like.  We really shouldn’t be allowed to call our jelly doughnuts, jelly doughnuts either.  Jelly requires some history of fruit, some connection other than say the color, Cherry Red.  Still, according to this website, a Jam filled doughnut has around 2/3 the sugar of a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosties (hint #2 that they are from the UK).  Around here, the numbers are quite different though.  If we use Dunkin’ Doughnuts as the standard of a Jelly Doughnut, and Frosted Flakes as the standard of a sugary cereal, we actually have 6 grams of sugar in a Jelly doughnut, and 12 grams of sugar in a serving of frosted flakes…  Seriously…  I don’t know how this is possible, but our doughnuts contain HALF the sugar as one little bowl of kids cereal…  All of this is cute and beside the point because both of these are terrible breakfast items and you really shouldn’t be eating either.  More importantly though, I don’t want David Zinczenko logging on here and suggesting that you should eat this-Jelly Doughnut-and not that-Frosted Flakes, because he does not understand the different between ‘good and bad’ and ‘bad and worse’…  Before I move on though, I checked out the ingredients in that Jelly doughnut filling and here is what I discovered:

Corn Syrup, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar Syrup, Apple Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Pectin, Citric Acid Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Locust Bean Gum, Sodium Citrate, Red 40, Blue 2 and Caramel Color, Artificial Flavor; Shortening: Palm Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to help protect flavor

The closest thing to fruit this thing has is a little concentrated apple juice.  This comes  after 3 different types of sugar in the first 3 ingredients…  This too has the TBHQ… how innocuous it sounds…  I like it when they call my tertiary butylhydroquinone by its real name, tertiary butylhydroquinone.  I am sure though, it is relatively harmless compared to the Red 40.  If you don’t like the name of TBHQ, you should check out Red 40 and see what is going on with that petroleum product… yes, I said petroleum product…that we are eating…

When it comes to kids cereals, I guess this quote sums it up best:

“Industry self-regulation is an abject failure,” says Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center. “The worst cereals are being marketed very heavily to children.” He presents the analysis today(10/27/2009) in Washington at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.

According to this USA today article,  Kid’s cereals contain 85% more sugar and 65% less fiber than adults’.  Wow… that is bad.  In fact, some other things jump out in this article:

  • The average preschooler sees 642 TV cereal ads a year; most are for types with the worst nutrition ratings. Cereal companies spend more than $156 million a year marketing to children.
  • Cereal companies have websites that are wildly popular with children such as the millsberry.com site from General Mills.
  • Some of the products with the poorest nutrition ratings have health claims on the boxes.
  • Cereal companies have made pledges to self-regulate, but those promises “have not shielded kids from the barrage of messages” to eat the least healthful products, the report says.

In fact:

In a related study, Yale researchers tracked 89 children, ages 5 to 12, who made their own breakfasts at summer camps. Kids were given either a box of sweetened cereal such as Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops and Cocoa Pebbles, or a box of a low-sugar cereal such as Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Rice Krispies. They could take as much as they wanted of cereal, milk, sugar, orange juice, bananas and strawberries. Results:

•Kids given the low-sugar cereal ate about one serving or one cup. A serving varied from ¾ cup to 1 ¼ cup depending on the weight of the product.

•Those eating the high-sugar type ate two servings or about two cups.

•Children rated the taste of both types equally high.

•Kids eating the low-sugar brands added some sugar but still ate about half as much sugar and far fewer calories than the other kids and were more likely to put fruit on top.

“Part of getting kids to eat more fruit at breakfast is not having it compete with Froot Loops or another high-sugar cereal,” says Marlene Schwartz, deputy director of the Rudd Center.

Certainly, when it comes to eating sweet cereals, I think the parents have to take responsibility for their kids and their future.  We, the consumers, the ones who are buying these products have to force companies such as Kellogg’s and General Mills to stop advertising to our children.  We can do this.  When I think of the advertising dollars spent on kids tv to get our children to eat their sugary cereals, it reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit where the advertiser asks kids to get their parents out of the room before he goes on.  It really is an attempt to get at our kids when we turn our backs.  When I think of what corporate shits these companies are, it makes me very angry…  I guess it makes me want to ask these people who sit on the boards of these companies, ‘what limits do you have when it comes to making a dollar?’  Is it that they are unaware of what they are doing, just the proverbial stooge continuing to do business as usual, or are they just immune to feelings of wrongdoing and guilt?

Parents, don’t think for a second that breakfast cereals are healthy.  If you are going to feed any to your children make  sure  they are low in sugar and high in fiber.  If you think the battle to keep your kids from eating this crap is tough, the battle to get these companies to back off will be even tougher.  The news of Kellogg’s having to throw out over 5 million kilograms of sugar didn’t even cause a tick on the stock value.  Everyone knows just how hooked we are on their sugar fix.  Sugar is cheap.  An addicted public though, that is worth a mint to these people…

I love how in the opening quote the company says, “the potential for serious health problems associated with the cereal is low.”  Of course they didn’t mean the long term potential for serious health problems, just the immediate threat.  The long term looks pretty bad, obesity, heart disease, diabetes…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 6:04 am

    just wanted to say I love your blog! just “found” it, and can totally relate. My kids LOVE cereal, and it’s an ongoing battle to get them to eat healthy. I hate how these big companies gear their crappy food toward kids, when they should put that money towards providing a better product! I could go on a rant, but I’ll spare you – just wanted to say thanks for the great info 🙂

  2. July 2, 2010 12:38 pm

    I came to check out your blog after you started to follow me on Twitter. 🙂

    I can’t eat any of Kellogg’s cereals, but I found the article to be really interesting nonetheless!

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