Six really bad food choices we’ve selected in observance of ‘Read Your Labels Day’

Posted by
April 11, 2013

Now that the first annual Read Your Labels Day is finally here, have you shared with the world a processed food label with some questionable ingredients yet?

If not, get out your phone, find a food product with one or more of our top ten additives to avoid, take a photo of that product’s ingredient label and share it on Instagram using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels. Foods containing these bad ingredients are (unfortunately) very easy to find. Chances are there are probably several in your own kitchen right now.

We have our own special picks we would like to share with you – six really bad food choices, and all the more reasons why before buying a product, you always need to check out the ingredients first.

1. Kellogg’s Pop Tarts

Why we picked this: As a very popular breakfast “replacement” and snack food marketed to kids, this product contains some of the very additives parents should make a point of avoiding, including high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, artificial colors Blue #2 and Blue #1 and partially hydrogenated oil.

The beautiful and appealing Pop Tarts packaging also makes nutritional claims such as “baked with real fruit” (only “equal to 10%” however), “Good source of 5 B Vitamins,” and “Good source of 7 Vitamins & Minerals.” While all this may be technically accurate, Pop Tarts are in no way a good source of nutrition, and these package claims only serve to attract the eye of busy and tired consumers who can be easily convinced they are purchasing an item packed with ‘food value’ for their kids.

2. Campbell’s Fun Favorites soup lineup

Why we picked this: This is another example of a product line with kids in mind that actually harbors some pretty awful ingredients, including the brain-damaging additive monosodium gultamate, along with another “excitotoxin” soy protein isolate, both added for one reason only: to create a “more flavorful broth.”

While monosodium glutamate and other forms of manufactured glutamic acid aren’t good for anyone, they can be especially harmful to children. And with the packaging depicting some of the most popular cartoon characters around, such as Phineas and Ferb and Disney Princesses, there can be no doubt that’s precisely the market Campbell’s is targeting with these products.

3. CapriSun Mountain Cooler

Why we picked this: If you just looked at the front of the CapriSun packaging you might think it’s a fruit juice containing apples and raspberries. In label-reading reality, however, this drink is little more than water and high fructose corn syrup, with an apple juice content of just 10 percent. And while the box copy boasts about containing “15 percent less packaging” and the fact that’s what’s left is “made from renewable material” and  is “still recyclable!” and that by buying this product you can “respect the pouch and the planet, too,” it’s what’s inside the pouch that counts. And it’s not what the graphics make it out to be.

4. Hungry-Man Boneless Fried Chicken dinner

Why we picked this:  While no ingredient-conscious individual would ever consider “Hungry Man” frozen meals to be anywhere close to “healthy” eating, this product contains so many of our top ten additives to avoid we just had to include it. Whether it’s partially hydrogenated oil, soy protein concentrate or monosodium glutamate, this is where you’ll find it – and that’s just in the chicken patties. Move on to the mashed potatoes and you’ll turn up more partially hydrogenated oil, the preservative BHT and some “natural” flavorings. Consider the brownie, and you’ve got even more partially hydrogenated oil, more preservatives and some artificial flavors. The “sauce” contains more of the same. All in all, this product contains seven sources of artery-clogging partially hydrogenated oil and seven different sources of artificial preservatives.

In fact, Hungry-Man frozen meals represent such amazing concoctions of food science that they should probably be put in a time capsule, where they might very well look and taste the same a century from now.

5. Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts

Why we picked this: Pie is a simple and traditional pleasure that doesn’t deserve to be adulterated by ingredients such as partially hydrogenated lard preserved with BHA, Yellow 5 and Red 40. The package also makes a 0 grams trans fat claim that deceptively takes advantage of an FDA labeling loophole allowing products with under 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to be labeled as having none.  All-told, “America’s #1 pie crust” has certainly strayed a long way from a dessert that’s as American as…well, apple pie.

6. Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken Broth

Why we picked this: This Swanson product is a perfect example of a misleading “No MSG” label, hoping to snare consumers who wish to avoid this neurotoxic “flavor enhancer.”

Although monosodium glutamate can be easy enough to look for, there are dozens of ingredient names that contain various amounts of manufactured glutamic acid, enough to cause a reaction in an MSG-sensitive individual. (For a complete list of ingredients that “always” and “often” contain MSG, look here).

And there are a lot more bad food choices where those came from. Hopefully they will stay in the supermarket and not make it to your kitchen.