Gummy snacks of all kinds are everywhere, often boasting that they’re made of “real juice” – trying to convince consumers that they are a good healthy choice for growing toddlers. So what’s the deal? If you actually look at the ingredients, how do you know if they’re good or bad? When I glanced at the back of a package of Gerbers Graduates, I was a little shocked. I quickly swapped it out for a package of Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks. Here’s why.
GERBER® GRADUATES™ Juice Treats® Fruit Medley
Ingredients: CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, WHITE GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE, CARRAGEENAN, NATURAL FLAVOURS, DEXTROSE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), CORNSTARCH, HYDROGENATED COCONUT OIL, RASPBERRY AND APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATES, PEACH JUICE, CARNUBA WAX, BEESWAX, ELDERBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, COLOUR, CITRIC ACID
Corn Syrup and Cornstarch are, obviously, derived from corn – one of the top crops for GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Corn Syrup is also a refined sugar – see the next ingredient!
Sugar (of the refined kind) is known to be linked to diabetes and obesity.
Carrageenan is derived from seaweed, and though it is natural (and thus can even be found in some organic products, like almond milk, coconut milk, and yogurt), it has been linked to increased gastrointestinal inflammation as well as colon cancer.
Natural Flavours is a bit of a nasty one. This is a cover-up term used so that the actual ingredients under the label don’t need to be disclosed. Natural flavours can even include MSG, aspartame, and bug shell bits.
Hydrogenated Coconut Oil may fool you because you may have heard that coconut oil is good for you (it sure is). But in a hydrogenated form, it’s not. Hydrogenated oils are a trans fat, which is linked to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Colour is another vague term that could either mean: 1) a natural colour (meaning it was derived from something natural but then added to this food to make it look pretty), or 2) artificial colour which has links to ADHD, and possibly cancer.
“Labels for Gerber Graduates Juice Treats—a product intended for pre-schoolers—picture an abundance of fruit: oranges, grapes, peaches, cherries, pineapple, and raspberries. Yet there is no cherry, orange, or pineapple in the product, and less than 2 percent is raspberry and apple juice concentrate. The main ingredients are corn syrup and sugar, providing 17 grams—or about four teaspoons—of refined sugars per serving.” (CSPI Urges FDA Crackdown on False & Misleading Food Labeling, cspinet.org) Yikes!
Ingredients: ORGANIC TAPIOCA SYRUP, ORGANIC CANE SUGAR, ORGANIC TAPIOCA SYRUP SOLIDS, ORGANIC WHITE GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE, PECTIN, CITRIC ACID, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), COLOR (ORGANIC BLACK CARROT), NATURAL FLAVORS, SODIUM CITRATE, ORGANIC SUNFLOWER OIL, CARNAUBA WAX.
Carnauba Wax doesn’t seem to be harmful when ingested, it’s just one of those weird ingredients that is a bit odd to find in food because it’s, well, wax.
So, obviously I’m going to say that the Annie’s brand of fruit snacks is better than the Gerber’s brand. However – these “fruit snacks” should still be considered candy considering that the ingredients are basically sugar and syrup (albeit organic!). So use fruit snacks in moderation, or in the case of the Gerber’s Graduates brand – not at all!
What “fruit snacks” do you give your kids, if any?
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