Consumer Reports: Food fake-out

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Some processed foods have strayed so far from the farm and field, that their frighteningly long list of ingredients bears little resemblance to anything you’d find in your pantry. Consumer Reports looked at some supermarket favorites to see what key ingredients give each food its pizzazz.

Take International Delight Gourmet Coffee Creamer. The label teases you’ll “… blast off to the sweet ’n creamy stratosphere.” But prepare for a hard landing because the “creamer” is mostly water, sugar, and palm oil.

How about McCormick Bac’n Pieces? Surely they contain bacon? In fact, Bac’n bits don’t contain any meat at all. They’re mostly textured soy flour.

Looking for a fruit-fix in the morning? Don’t count on Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry. There’s not a berry in the box! 

How about a classic favorite, Oreos? Surprised to hear there’s no dairy in the creamy middle?

Another labeling pitfall: buzzwords. There’s a reason snacks are called potato crisps instead of potato chips. The Food and Drug Administration requires a “chip” to be thinly sliced potato, but a “crisp” can be made from dried potatoes with cornstarch, sugar, and soy lecithin.

When Consumer Reports asked companies for an explanation, most of the time it either got none or a vague response.

So don’t look for butter in Mrs. Butterworth’s or expect oranges in the Tang. Instead, look past the pretty pictures and seek the truth in the ingredient list.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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