Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DANGER! Aunt Jemima Confetti Pancakes

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration made public 17 warning letters it sent to various food manufacturers in February, admonishing them for misleading nutritional claims.

Unfortunately, Pinnacle Foods Group, the maker of Aunt Jemima products, didn’t receive a warning letter for its Aunt Jemima frozen confetti pancakes, introduced just this year. According to the box, the pancakes are a “good source of 6 vitamins and minerals” and have “no preservatives.”

But a quick investigation helps us learn that five of those six vitamins and minerals must be added to enriched flour, the pancakes’ essential ingredient. (Enriched flour is flour that has been stripped of its color, nutrition and flavor and has had the stripped nutrients put back in. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just leave the flour as it was in the first place?)

In addition, the phrase “good source” is troublesome because of its subjectivity. Following the F.D.A.’s recommended daily intake levels, eating three pancakes gets you 15 percent of the needed phosphorous and thiamin; 10 percent of riboflavin, niacin and iron; and 4 percent of calcium. (A cup of whole milk has 30 percent of recommended calcium.)

Finally, I’m not sure what “no preservatives” means, but I do know that the confetti (read: sprinkles) is loaded with artificial colorants, which have been proven to be a cause of hyperactivity. The confetti’s ingredients:
Sugar, Corn Syrup, Corn Cereal, Modified Food Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed and/or Soybean), Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1
Please do not purchase this product. If you are going to buy frozen pancakes or waffles, try to opt for brands and flavors without artificial colorants, refined sugars and other synthetic additives.

9 comments:

Scarlet Begonia said...

blugh.. Aunt Jemima must be rolling over in her grave.
I can't imagine ever considering allowing my kids to eat three of these- which of course would be drenched in syrup. It's the not sugar rush that I'd worry about- it's the crash. Poor kids :(

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely not true. If someone works for a food company you know that you MUST follow the FDA regulations. "Good Source" is a valid regulation and this product DOES NOT contain preservatives. Shame on you "Chef Bob" for writing such a ridiculous blog.
Ever hear of personal responsibility? You don't have to eat this food everyday.

A.Thornt said...

Happy to of found your blog. Very nice. I always appreciate someone who sheds light on the aisles and aisles of misleading packaging at the grocery store. As for the last comment on here,...who would want to eat this stuff on ANY DAY!? Just look at the ingredients! Corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil (AKA TRANS FATS)! It's so funny when people say, "oh come on, it won't hurt you to eat it every once in awhile". Um actually,.. yes it will.

Chef Rob said...

All,

Thanks for your comments. Everyone makes good points, including Anonymous. I will discuss further in an upcoming post (hopefully this week).

Rob

Brian said...

I'm happy to see a dissenting opinion (Anonymous) join the discussion. Of course, respect and transparency would be appreciated too (similar to what we expect from our food producers).
As to your points, Anonymous: Rob never claimed that there are preservatives in this product. Nor did he claim that the claims made on the packaging did not meet FDA guidelines. I think his point was more: regardless of whether they meets guidelines, the claims on the box are preposterous. And this leads us to your call for "personal responsibility," one of the major defenses Big Food always raises when the quality of its products are questioned. "Hey, we just make the stuff, you don't have to eat it." But how can we exercise personal responsibility, ie make good choices about what to feed ourselves and our families, when these products that should be used in extreme moderation, if at all, are claiming to be good sources of nutrition? Isn't this sending a confusing signal that this glorified candy is really a responsible meal choice? Isn't this box saying, "Hey, parents, I know I look like crap, but I'm really actually a healthy choice for your kids, and you know they're gonna love it. It's a win-win breakfast if you serve me!" If candy was called candy and kept in the candy aisle, I think it would be much more reasonable to expect everyone not to serve candy for breakfast. But in the modern supermarket, candy is dressed up a thousand different ways and found throughout the store under many different names. It takes an educated consumer to decipher the coded language surrounding this system. Judging from the rates of diet-related diseases from which we Americans suffer, and from the profitability of such products as the one in question, a lot of us are not making the right choices. Rob's "ridiculous" blog seeks to provide us with vital information which we can use to make better choices. If I'm not mistaken, that is promoting personal responsibility.

Kelly A. said...

Wow, that is one of the scariest breakfast "foods" I've ever seen! I bet they don't sell it outside the U.S. either.

It's also pathetic that such a low amount of calcium can be considered a good source by the FDA.

Chef Rob said...

Kelly A.,

Nice use of ""!

Actually, the amount of calcium is too low to be considered a "good source," but I'll address this further in the post I am working on.

Rob

cat delett said...

Anonymous makes an additional good point, possibly inadvertently. Maybe 10% shouldn't be considered "A Good Source."

The FDA labeling regulations certainly aren't infallible. Pop-tarts are allowed to say "baked with real fruit" even though the fruit is dried fruit listed under "contains less than 2% of...."

Anonymous said...

Yum!! I love them! They are delish!