Label Confusion: Del Monte Healthy Kids Peaches

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Have you ever noticed how many choices there are these days when it comes to canned fruit?  In my local Kroger supermarket there are actually THREE different places you can find canned fruit.

  • One is in the organic or natural section,
  • the other is with the other canned products like soups and vegetables
  • and the other spot is an aisle dedicated just to kids and busy moms.  It has all the crackers, goldfish, boxed jellos and pudding, juice boxes, etc.

I’ve been meaning to do a post on this for quite some time and I got a sign from the Universe today that I needed to get on it.  What happened you ask?  I thought you never would.

I went shopping this morning (which is a Monday) because yesterday was Mother’s Day so I took the day off – woo hoo!  And on a weekday you will usually see stay at home moms doing their weekly grocery shopping because they are smart enough to avoid the stores on the weekends.  And with them are their preschool kids in tow.

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Today I overheard a mom talking to her young child in the cart.  She was choosing the following can of peaches while reading the label outloud to her small child.  I will paraphrase, “Oh (insert childs name), let’s get these.  You like peaches right?  They’re called Healthy Kids so they’re just for you!”

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Now anyone who knows me personally knows I couldn’t let this go.  I feel compelled to help other moms out there navigate their way through the endless gimmicks, latest buzz words, and flat out lies companies will use on us so we will spend our dollars on their products.

I’d like you to take a look at the following 2 cans of peaches.  They are BOTH from the Del Monte company.  They are probably picked from the same farms, go through the same processing and canning procedures, yet that’s where the similarities end.

Let’s look at the Lite Sliced Peaches first.  Turn the can over and the ingredients read:

Peaches, Water, Sugar

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Now here’s the can of Healthy Kids peaches.  Turn the can over and the label reads:

Peaches, Water, Sugar, Calcium Gluconate, Calcium Lactate, Asorbic Acid, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Vitamin A Palmitate

2014-05-12 11.02.522014-05-12 11.02.59PROBLEM #1

If you’re an avid reader of my blog you probably already know what I’m going to focus on here.  Yep, you guessed it.  The natural flavors.  But it’s not my only issue.

As we all know the FDA is overwhelmed (to say the least) when it comes to keeping up with the never ending new items hitting our store shelves with the term NATURAL FLAVORS.  They also do not require flavor companies to disclose the ingredients of their additives, so long as all the chemicals are considered by the agency to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe).

As a matter of fact, I got this directly from the FDAs website:

  • “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances”

This lack of public disclosure enables the companies to maintain the secrecy of their formulas. It also gives the companies the ability to make a strawberry flavored drink or food taste exactly like strawberry without ever using real strawberries!

Without the flavor industry, packaged and canned foods simply would not and could not exist.  As a consumer we also have the RIGHT to know what compounds (how ever many hundreds of them there are) make up a “FLAVORING”.

PROBLEM #2

The 2nd issue is the misleading information on the percentages.  Take a closer look at the bottom of this label.

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Do you see how it says Vit A 15%, Calcium 10%?  These percentages are a guide to how much of a particular nutrient you should get each day.

Let’s just look at the calcium part of this.  I think this is going to get confusing.  I called quite a few people I know to help me with this and we all ended up MORE confused than we started.  So bear with me on this.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences recommends the following amounts of calcium per day:

  • 500 mg a day for kids who are 1 to 3 years old
  • 800 mg a day for kids who are 4 to 8 years old
  • 1,300 mg a day for kids who are 9 to 18 years old  {source}

Let’s assume our child is 5.  According to this recommendation he/she should be getting 800 mg of calcium a day.   The label says this can contains 10% of the recommended daily amount.  But here’s the problem ….. each group of kids requires a DIFFERENT amount of calcium per day.

So how can one serving equal 10% for each of them???

This led me to ask myself, “what did they base the 10% off of??”   This took me a VERY long time to figure out by the way because at first I (along with those I called) thought this percentage was based off the 2,000 calories per day.

But the calcium’s percent Daily Value on food labels is based on the adult requirements of 1000 mg a day.  A One Size Fits All approach to nutrition.

So using our 1000 mg one size fits all number, that means a 1/2 cup serving size of these peaches at 10% would be the equivalent to 100 mg of calcium.  Did you follow that?  10% of 1000 = 100.

Referring to the chart above, 100 mg of calcium will NOT equal 10% for each age group.  It would really equal:

  • 20% for kids ages 1-3
  • 12% for kids ages 4-8 and
  • 7% for kids ages 9-18

By the way these percentages aren’t just for the Vitamins section of the label.  If you look to where the regular nutrition is (fat, calories, etc) it too is based off a One Size Fits All Approach to nutrition.  This label says based on a 2,000 calorie diet.  What child requires 2000 calories?   This label is based on an adults requirements, not children’s, yet the labeling of this product and the marketing is torpedoed directly at them

CONCLUSION

What does all this mean?  It means that you can only really use the % DV as a GUIDE for the foods they are eating each day.  A very poor guide if you ask me considering how much food we eat in a day, these guides are pretty useless.

Be sure to turn the can over and read the ingredients if nothing else.  As we’ve discovered today the DV Percentage charts are a waste of time.  But if you focus on finding products that contain 5 ingredients or less you’d be making a better choice.

RESOURCES:

  • http://www.iom.edu/About-IOM/Leadership-Staff/Boards/Food-and-Nutrition-Board.aspx
  • http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/
  • http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/transparency/basics/ucm214868.htm
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