Don’t be fooled by those ‘No HFCS’ claims on ‘new’ Pop Tarts

Posted by
November 20, 2014

poptarts_hfcsThe Pop Tart wouldn’t exactly qualify as the sort of thing the Kellogg brothers originally had in mind.

As the inventors of corn flakes, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his younger brother, W. K. Kellogg, both Seventh Day Adventists, were what some might consider “health nuts.” And, in fact, the Kellogg company web site now refers to the fact that W.K. who founded the original company back in 1906, was “motivated by a passion to help people improve their health.”

Of course, W.K. did add a little sugar to make those corn flakes more appealing, a decision thath didn’t sit too well with his older brother, the proprietor of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Still, one can only wonder how either Kellogg would have reacted to the sight of supermarket shelves lined with Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, the “toaster pastries” sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked by various studies to obesity, diabetes and a host of other health problems.  And that’s not to mention the artificial colors and other additives typically listed among their ingredients.

But wait — could it be that the ghostly echoes of the Kellogg brothers’ displeasure are being heard lately at company headquarters? Or is it just the disapproval of consumers who have been increasingly turned off by products containing the laboratory sweetener (such as the one we heard from who reported having complained to the company about the HFCS in those Pop Tarts)?

Whatever the motivation, it recently came to our attention that Kellogg’s is showing signs of  having second thoughts about that particular ingredient. At least to the extent of marketing a couple “new” varieties of Pop Tarts – one being Oatmeal Delights, whose box boasts “No High Fructose Corn Syrup.” In fact, the positioning of that claim, just beneath the Pop Tarts logo, could even be interpreted to mean all the products in that category.

There’s also the claim posted on the company’s web site that yet another new product, Pop-Tarts Low-Fat Frosted Strawberry Toaster Pastries “contains no high fructose corn syrup” as well.

So could this mean that the folks at Kellogg’s are finally making a line of Pop Tarts that are more in keeping with the founders’ healthy intentions? Well, not quite.

Nearly all of the various types of Pop Tarts we examined at our local supermarket still contain HFCS, along with those artificial colors that have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. So much for the impression those “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” claims might give to a mom in a hurry that Pop Tarts can now be relied on to contain none of the unnatural sweetener.

And even the Oatmeal Delights Pop Tarts that are touted as HFCS-free contain fructose – along with two synthetic colors, Red 40 and Yellow 6, and the petroleum-derived preservative TBHQ.

Two-and-half-years ago, we endeavored to find out why there was still HFCS in Pop Tarts and other Kellogg’s products. Those popular breakfast treats still contain it, we were informed, because the company hadn’t yet found a replacement ingredient that “gives them the same texture and brown look that customers expect and are accustomed to.”

Not that Kellogg’s wasn’t continuing to search for one – and may or may not have found it in whatever formula it is using to make the new ones that brag about having “no high fructose corn syrup.”

Still, one might think that a company with a “Breakfast Council” made up of “six independent experts dedicated to helping all of us understand nutrition information and how to incorporate nutritious foods and habits into our diets” could do a little better than that.

Especially when its founders were so intent on trying to make the world a healthier place.