Tricks of the Trade Journals
Liebman, Bonnie, Nutrition Action Healthletter
Why do companies add fruit flavors to their cookies instead of real fruit? Why does your local restaurant smother its chicken breast with cheese? How did that sausage-in-a-pancake end up on your child's school breakfast menu?
One reason is advertising. Not the ads you and I see, but the ones that appear in the trade journals that people in the food or food service business read.
This month we take a behind-the-scenes look at those ads to see if they can help explain what gets into our food, our menus ...and, eventually, our mouths.
This is Nature?
"Today's consumer wants it all, great taste, natural ingredients, and new ideas. McCormick & Wild has the trend-setting natural flavors that capture as never before, the freshness of real fruit."
Apparently, freshness isn't just something you get in a fresh food. It's an ingredient that can be made into a liquid and added to anything.
So, apparently, is chutzpah.
The Unkindest Cut
What's typical serving of beef? A mere three ounces (cooked), according to the government, new food labels, and the Beef Industry Council.
That's if you read the industry's ads for lean, trimmed-down "skinniest six" cuts that appear in the magazines most of us see. You know, the ads that have nutrition information and surprisingly l-o-w levels of fat and calories.
So how come the beef people feature much heftier servings in ads to restaurateurs? The recipes in the Beef Industry Council's ad call for about 7-1/2 oz. of cookee prime rib or 7-1/2 to 10 oz. of cooked beef tenderloin steak.
Could it be that that's what most restaurants typically serve? Hmmm.
As for nutrition information: sorry, the ad contained none.
"Your customers are eating more chicken, pasta and fish," begins this ad from the National Dairy Board. "But it isn't easy to keep the appeal of these dishes fresh and exciting." The cheesemakers' solution, of course, is to drip you-know-what over everything. Never mind that many people are eating more chicken, pasta, and fish to cut back on the artery-clogging satured fat in red meat and cheese.
Of course, when the restaurant smothers its salmon in cheese, health-conscious customers might as well be eating a steak. Especially if the side dishes are cheddar-topped salad and Zucchini-Monterey-Jack-Melt.
"They're made with Smucker's real fruit filling, and contain no artificial flavors or preservatives. Plus they're cholesterol free, and fortified with six vitamins and iron."
Sounds like a health food...until you see what's in Pop-Tarts, that is. That "real fruit filling" has far more sugar than real fruit. And the flavors that contain expensive fruits--like blueberry, cherry, or raspberry--have added apple and grape juice, which keeps the fruit costs to a minimum.
Then there's the sugar in the pastry and--in most flavors--the frosting. All told, sugar comprises 40 percent of each Pop-Tart's calories. White flour adds another 40 percent, with most of the rest coming from fat. …