Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Showing a little KINDness to KIND bars

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Last week everyone got all in a kerfuffle because KIND bars were told that they were not allowed to use the term “healthy” to market their snacks by the FDA. Since I’ve promoted KIND bars on here in the past (my first, and only, giveaway) I felt that I should weigh in on the subject.

In my opinion, as far as snack bars go, many KIND bars are a damn sight better than the alternatives. Many of them contain only about a teaspoon of sugar, compare that to upwards of six teaspoons in other snack bars. They are all nut-based, which is a nice change from the refined ingredients in many granola bars. The packaging on KIND bars doesn’t actually state “healthy”. This was a claim made on the KIND website. If you want to see some misleading packaging, just take a walk down the granola bar aisle. Here are just a few examples that I found:

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I understand that the FDA and CFIA need to ensure that food manufacturers aren’t using terms willy nilly. Otherwise you’d have every bottle of pop, chocolate bar, and bag of chips claiming some sort of health promoting abilities or ingredient. But really, really? I think that all this incident does is to highlight the difficulty with food marketing and health and nutrition claims. “Healthy” is a relative term and the criteria the FDA has used to define it may not fit for everyone. As you know, the negative effect of dietary saturated fat (especially from plant sources) has recently been called into question. Using specific nutrient quantities to determine whether or not a product can be marketed as “healthy” is tricky, and frankly not all that useful. You’re far better off reading the ingredients and making your own decision as to whether or not you want to include a particular food in your diet.


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Children of the Quorn

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I found this post by CSPI (the Centre for Science in the Public Interest) calling for the ban of Quorn products in the US a little puzzling.

For those wondering, apparently Quorn is a “vat grown fungus” used in vegetarian meat product substitutes. Yes, I know, it sounds revolting to us omnivores. Personally, I think that plants (and I suppose fungi) should be proud to be themselves and not masquerade as meat. Putting that aside, apparently it’s quite popular. It’s not available in Canada because the CFIA has not tested, and therefore, not approved it for sale, as far as I can tell.

The FDA has approved the sale of Quorn products in the US but, based on reports of allergic reactions, the CSPI is calling for retailers to stop selling Quorn and for people who have experienced allergic reactions to report them to CSPI. If Quorn is toxic then, yes, it should not be sold. However, I can’t quite comprehend limiting the sale of a food simply because some people are allergic to it. Why not call for grocery stores to stop carrying peanut butter, soy, scallops, or any other common allergen?

Consumers should be aware that consuming Quorn may cause them to have an adverse reaction. They can make their own decisions from there. Unless there is more reason than this to believe that Quorn poses a significant risk, I say let the vegetarians eat their Quorn.


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Aspartame in milk: sweet or bitter drink to swallow?

By now you’ve probably heard about the dairy industry in the US petitioning the FDA to allow them to use artificial (or non-nutritive) sweeteners in flavoured milks. The current legislation will not allow artificially sweetened beverages to be called milk. The dairy industry feels that milk is falling victim to low-cal beverages and in order to remain popular with school children believes that they need to change the added sugar to a low or no-calorie option.

A part of me think “good” we don’t need sugar sweetened milk. We consume far too much sugar as a society anyway. Another part of me is concerned about the dairy industry’s desire to not make the non-nutritive sweetener visible of the front of the label. However, presumably, the ingredients would have to be listed as usual on the packaging. It’s not like the change in sweetener would be hidden from the consumer.

Another part of me thinks that none of these beverages should be available in schools anyway. School kids shouldn’t be given milk sweetened with sugar or non-nutritive sweetener. They also shouldn’t be sold pop, sports drinks, or even juice. Why do we need to teach our kids that beverages can only be enjoyed if they’re sweet?

I think that making milk sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners is actually a pretty great idea for adults to choose at the grocery store. Yes, personally, I’m not a fan of these sweeteners, but I think that it would be a better option than diet pop for many people. I don’t think that any flavoured milks should be being pushed on children at school.