Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More on Pinnacle Foods' Aunt Jemima Confetti Pancakes

Two weeks ago I wrote about Aunt Jemima frozen confetti pancakes, which are constructed by Pinnacle Foods.

Unfortunately I did not do my research and made vague statements about nutritional claims on the product’s package, eliciting this comment from Anonymous:
"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 [sic]."
I’ll tackle both the knowledge of food company employees and personal responsibility in other posts this week, but today is about the intricacies of food labeling.

F.D.A. regulations strictly regulate what can and can’t be written. For example, “good source” is not a subjective phrase, as I incorrectly suggested. From the guidance page of the F.D.A. website (RDI = reference daily intake, DRV = daily reference value, DV = daily value):
"A 'good source' claim may be made when a food contains 10-19% of the RDI or DRV (both declared on the label as the DV). A 'high' claim may be made when a food contains at least 20% of the DV."
Thus, Pinnacle’s claim that its frozen confetti pancakes are a “good source of 6 vitamins and minerals” is within bounds, since phosphorous, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron and sodium exceed 10 percent.

But the labeling seems one-sided. Shouldn’t the F.D.A. also be forcing the processed food companies to place warning labels on junk food, similar to tobacco products? Under the current system we are told what is (seemingly) healthy without any information about the dangers of other ingredients.

Would Pinnacle sell as many confetti pancakes if the hazards of artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and bleached flours were spelled out on the box? Would parents stop to consider the ramifications of their purchasing decisions?

Hesitantly, I spent $3.49 to see this product in person. The photo above is of a pancake’s interior (neon “confetti” exposed!), next to a carrot and red pepper. Make sure to be wearing sunglasses when you click to enlarge it.


cat delett said...

I think it's a shame that people read "A good source..." and buy a product without checking the ingredients. This product contains four different types of sugar. By my count, this product also contains 14 ingredients that wouldn't be in homemade pancakes. (Fifteen if you count sugar, which I don't use in my recipe -- and it's not missed, by the way). Then people top these "pancakes" with syrup made from corn syrup and HFCS. Two more sugars. Yikes!

Just because a product has been fortified with some vitamins, doesn't mean it's in any way a good choice for a healthy breakfast, even occasionally.

People think kids need this type of "fun" food, but they don't. Why teach kids that food should look like cartoons?

JavaMama said...

I say bravo to you for posting about subjects like this, not shame on you! Totally agree- just because it happens to technically be a "good source" of vitamins & minerals according to the FDA, that does NOT mean we should feel comfortable feeding it to our children!!
Have you been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Between that and Oprah's episode on Food, Inc, gives me hope that this issue of food is entering America's consciousness!!! Keep up the good work, Chef Rob!

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote that original comment saying "shame on you" probably eats that stuff every morning followed by a big mac. Sadly they also comprise the type of people who could use your knowledge the most.

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