FoodFacts wonders if you know what Aunt Jemima Blueberry Waffles, Tropicana Cherry Berry Twister and Betty Crocker Super Moist Carrot Cake Mix have in common.
Food colorings. Blue 2, Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5, to name a few of the more common food colorings in our food supply. But these foods go one step further than using the food colorings … they may in fact be using the food colorings in order to deceive you, the consumer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports today that it is urging the FDA to require food companies to disclose on the front of the food labels whether or not a product is artificially colored. We think they have a point. If you see an illustration of fruit on a front label, you may in fact assume that the fruit in the illustration is actually included in that product.
Let’s take a look at a few product ingredient lists and see if the front label packaging is sometimes giving us the wrong impression.
Here’s Aunt Jemima’s Blueberry Waffles.
The product is featured on the front of the packaging. You can see all the “blueberries” in the waffles pictured, as well as some fresh blueberries garnishing the plate atop which the waffles sit. You can also see that in a lighter color type next to the words Blueberry Waffles, are the words “Artificially Flavored”. At least the words are there. The ingredient list cites “Artificial Blueberry Bits” … and that’s the only place you’ll see the word blueberry in that list. You will, however see, Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. We guess they need to use something to make those dots in the waffles actually look like blueberries.
Next we have Betty Crocker SuperMoist Carrot Cake Mix. This was a featured product in the report from the Center For Science in the Public Interest.
If you look closely at the image, you can see what appear to be bits of real carrot in the cake. Sadly, when you look further into the ingredient list, those bits of carrot are actually listed as “Carrot Flavored Pieces that are made out of corn syrup, enriched flour, corn cereal, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and/or soybean oil, carrot powder and yellow 6 and red 40.” That carrot powder mentioned in the Carrot Flavored Pieces is the only carrot in the entire ingredient list. What leads you to believe the carrot cake mix is made with actual carrots is the photo gracing the front of the package.
Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast is using Red 40 in what appears to be an effort to make the consumer think that the cherries and berries pictured on the label are actually in the product.
The product does, in fact, contain fruit juice, just no cherry or berry juice.
We can also feature Strawberry Cool Whip.
The artwork on the front of the package pictures lovely, whole strawberries surrounding with a dollop of Strawberry Cool Whip sitting on top. Unfortunately, that’s the biggest relationship to a strawberry this product has. When you check the ingredient list, it doesn’t mention strawberries at all. It does, though, mention Red 40 which makes the whipped topping pink and, therefore leads the consumer to believe it actually contains strawberries.
Share your opinions with FoodFacts. We’d like to know if you think the efforts of the Center for Science in the Public Interest will help this situation. Would reading clearly on any of these front labels contains Food Coloring Red 40 or Yellow 6 make this more intelligible to the consumer. Perhaps they shouldn’t be able to picture a fruit on the label that’s actually unrelated to the product. Or maybe you have other ideas that we can share. Let us know.