Is That Right? Pop-Tarts are "Made with Real Fruit"
Full disclosure: I love Pop-Tarts. I can't allow them in the house because I could eat a whole box in a sitting.
But that doesn't mean I'm going to look the other way when Kellogg's, maker of the popular toaster pastries, makes a misleading claim on the Pop-Tarts package.
The various berry varieties come in boxes bursting with images of berries and bearing the statement "Made with Real Fruit."
Technically speaking, I suppose that's right. Mid-way through the lengthy list of ingredients you will indeed find "two percent or less of... dried strawberries, dried apples, dried pears." The Web site cryptically notes in teensy print, asterisked to the Made With Real Fruit claim, "Filling made with equal to 10 percent fruit." A Kellogg's spokesperson confirms that that means 10 percent of the filling is fruit and that the company added that bit of information to its packages in 2008 when Kellogg's revived the "made with real fruit" line. They'd stopped using that line in 2006 under pressure from consumer advocates.
While the Nutrition Facts panel shows that a single non-frosted Strawberry tart, for instance, provides 10 percent of the Daily Value for Vitamin A, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and folic acid, these nutrients are mostly added as separate ingredients; they certainly don't come from the little bit of dried fruit in the filling.
In fact, the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart (my favorite!), which bears no claims regarding fruit content, has about the same nutrition profile as its fruit-sounding fellow tart: Unfrosted, it delivers 210 calories, 70 from fat, 13 grams of sugar -- and exactly the same percentages of DVs for the seven nutrients listed above.
Kellogg's has recently added calcium-fortified and fiber-rich varieties to its lineup. While the calcium-enriched Strawberry Milkshake flavor, for example, provides 10 percent of the DV for that mineral, a Whole Grain with Fiber Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart supplies 20 percent of the fiber DV. That's actually pretty good.
And to its credit, Kellogg's has virtually eliminated artery-clogging trans fats from its recipes. Still, that Strawberry Pop-Tart gets nearly a quarter of its 210 calories from fat. Plus, one pastry delivers 16 grams of sugar -- the equivalent of 4 teaspoons. (The frosted variety has an added gram of sugar -- but 10 fewer calories and a bit less fat.) In light of the American Heart Association's new recommendation that we eat no more than 6 (for women) to 10 (for men) teaspoons of added sugar per day, that's a huge amount.
I think it's okay to enjoy a Pop-Tart now and then if you wish. But don't do it for the fruit.
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