Fruit Roll-Ups Are Healthy? Really?

Posted by javanuddin on Saturday, March 3, 2012

Recently, General Mills was sued by a woman in New York because she believes that the company misled consumers into thinking that its product, Fruit Roll-Ups, was healthy. She was upset that the product contained partially hydrogenated oil. The question of the day is: did she honestly think that they were supposed to be healthy? Do consumers believe that fruit snacks like Fruit Roll-Ups are a healthy alternative to real fruit? One look at the label would tell you otherwise. If consumers believe that a product like Fruit Roll-Ups can serve as an alternative to fruit, then it's no wonder that Americans have a problem with obesity.

The Fruit Roll-Ups package does not give any indication that the product is a "health food." It does say "Good Source of Vitamin C" on the package; the Nutrition Facts state that each roll has 10% of the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin C, so that might be a stretch. The snack is a source of Vitamin C, although an orange would probably be a better choice. Nothing on the rest of the package indicates that the snacks are nutritious: they are "fruit flavored snacks", they are colorful, and they come with tongue tattoos. Not exactly the makings of a health food.

It's not difficult to rotate the box a little and find the ingredients list: the strawberry flavored snacks contain pears from concentrate (oddly enough, no strawberries), along with health food gems like corn syrup, dried corn syrup, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, sugar, and acetylated mono and dyglycerides (yum). If this lady wanted to make sure that she was purchasing healthy food, maybe she should have taken a minute or two to read the ingredients list. General Mills is not trying to hide what they are using to make Fruit Roll-Ups, nor do they claim that they are healthy, aside from being a good source of Vitamin C.

Would it be nice if food companies started using more real ingredients, like real fruit, butter, and eggs, and relied less on chemicals like corn syrup, partially hydrogenated fats, and acetylated mono and dyglycerides? Yes. There are products on the market that don't contain these kinds of ingredients; health-conscious individuals would be better off buying them. For example, the Stretch Island Fruit Company makes a "Harvest Grape" flavored fruit leather with only three ingredients: apple puree concentrate, grape puree concentrate, and pear puree concentrate. Consumers can also buy dried fruits like raisins, dried pineapples, dried papaya, and dried apple slices.

Before blaming corporations on poor eating habits, people should first take a look at the ingredients list.

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