Monday, October 30, 2006

Kraft Capri Sun Sport Thunder Punch

As she points out in her comment on an earlier post, Michele Simon will speak tomorrow to a special public session of my U.S. Food Policy class at the Friedman School, on the topic of her new book, Appetite for Profit.

Open to the public at 4 p.m., October 31, in Auditorium B of the Sackler Building, on Tufts' Boston Campus.

Simon's book describes Kraft's nutrition marketing through its "Sensible Solutions" label and logo. To be granted this honor, a beverage for example "must be free of or low in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, or sodium, or must have 25 percent less of one of these in comparison to the base product or an appropriate reference product; and must be reviewed by Nutrition Department."

The key word in this mumbo jumbo is "or."

In much clearer English, a product that is all sugar may be labeled a Sensible Solution because it is low in fat. Or, a product that is all fat may be labeled low in sugar.

Following up on a hilarious example Simon mentions, I notice that the Capri Sun Sport Thunder Punch drink, heavily marketed to children, has 60 calories per 200 ml serving, according to the Nutrition Facts label [note, 7:30 p.m.: this sentence was edited to remove a previous suggestion that 200 ml was a misleading small serving size -- it is actually the size of the small 6.75 oz. packages]. Because the product is all sugar, it has no fat, and hence qualifies for the "Sensible Solution" label.

From the label, here are the ingredients: WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM CITRATE, POTASSIUM CITRATE, NATURAL FLAVOR.

The label carries the astonishing claim: "hydrates kids better than water." I'd like to know if those kids were drinking only 200 ml!

I am sympathetic to the hope that Kraft and other leading reputable food and beverage companies, who know their products and their consumers better than anybody, could in principle help solve nutrition problems through their own private voluntary efforts at consumer education. But, truly, we must first look their current nutrition marketing straight in the face and call it false.

4 comments:

yami990 said...

it may not be the best option but it's better then the original capri sun. here's what the original has vs capri sun sport:
original- 100calories,15mg salt, 25g sugar, no potassium.
sport- 60 calories, 55mg salt, 30mg potassium, 16g sugar.
i'd more worried about how much salt is in the sport version. i'd be more likely to buy the sport anyway since i live in southern arizona, but i wish it had less salt because what about the parents who are likely to drink it as well because if high blood pressure runs in the family they'd be getting a lot of trouble from the amount of salt in it. i know my dad would if he drank the stuff. still it's a better drink to put in lunches for my sister and me because it's less sugar and a bit more of potassium which a lot of people don't get enough of.

Anonymous said...

i wonder about that "hydrates better than water" claim - did they do actual research on this? some time in the past year I read of a study that showed that water and chocolate milk (!!!) were better than sports drinks, for a particular hydration situation.

Gene Stagg said...

These loopholes abound in decisions made by the FDA. For an example, check out this video by Dr. Joseph Mercola regarding the loophole that the manufacturers of artificial sweeteners jump through day after day. http://www.mercola.com/sweet-deception-aspartame

Gene Stagg

Jennythenipper said...

Sports drinks are better than water in certain situations. They make it possible to take in electrylytes and carbs without stopping and are easy to digest for athletes who want to keep moving. I would not use a sports drink unless I've been exercising for at least an hour. It's pretty unlikely that most little kids who are the market for this product are going to need to replace electrolytes and carbohydrates that badly.

And yeah, as anonymous said chocolate milk is often used by performance athletes like marthon runners because it contains a 4:1 carb to protein ratio that is supposedly magical for a recovery drink consumed within a half an hour of finishing exercise.

Again, most little kids are not going to need this kind of recovery effect and it will just end up being extra sugar in their diet.

My pediatrician had us cut out all juice, sports drinks, soda, etc from our sons diet. He drinks only water and 2% milk and his appetite and health have been greatly approved.

It gets very hard though because almost every where he goes he's offered a juice box or capri sun. That is just liquid junk food.