In June, General Mills finally caved to mounting consumer pressure and agreed to remove artificial flavors and food dyes from their breakfast cereals over the next two to three years.
Children cheered and moms everywhere breathed a sigh of relief – one less thing to worry about.
While I am glad to hear they are removing the dyes, some of which have been shown to cause hyperactivity in children, it was purely a marketing move.
General Mills is still churning out highly processed bad-for-you boxes of cereal – and marketing them as healthy.
One of their latest – Cherrios Protein – really gets the pull-the-wool-over-your-eyes prize.
This cereal proudly proclaims PROTEIN on the front of the box, as well as “11 grams of protein with milk” in a tag.
But a quick look at the Nutrition Facts label on the side of the box reveals the startling truth.
Cherrios Protein actually contains
17 TIMES the amount of sugar per serving
compared to regular Cherrios.
It even has more sugar than Frosted Cherrios!
Cherrios Protein may have 7grams of protein per serving compared to 3 grams in original Cherrios, but the ridiculous amount of sugar erases any claimed benefit. Interestingly, because the serving size of Cherrios Protein is larger than original Cherrios, the difference in protein per gram is only slightly higher in the new cereal.
Consumer protection groups have noticed. Truth In Advertising reports:
“The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on Monday[11/9/15] filed a class-action lawsuit against General Mills alleging that Cheerios Protein cereal is falsely and misleadingly marketed as a high protein, healthful alternative to Cheerios when in fact, it “has just a smidgen more protein than original Cheerios.”
But that really doesn’t matter when it comes to marketing. The big food companies know about the protein “halo effect.” People reach for anything that says “protein.” And General Mills is counting on it.
What does General Mills say about their highly-processed, SUGAR LADEN breakfast cereal?
“Parents are looking for breakfast options that not only provide long-lasting energy, but also something their entire family will enjoy at times that are right for them,” says Matt McQuinn, senior marketing manager, Big G Cereal New Products. “Cheerios Protein offers the benefits that go along with starting the day with 11g of protein and the great taste of Cheerios that kids and parents already know and love.”
As a parent, I am concerned about my family’s health. No doubt you are too.
The American Heart Association recommends that children consume no more than 12 grams of added sugar per day.
Just one serving of this cereal – 1-1/4 cups – delivers almost a day and half’s worth of sugar to young minds and bodies.
If you want to provide your child with “long-lasting energy,” you won’t find it in this cereal box. Highly-processed grains are quickly converted, causing an insulin spike followed by an energy crash. All of that extra sugar just amplifies it.
And guess what – the protein in this cereal is GMO soy! (Only original Cherrios is non-GMO.)
While it is disappointing to see General Mills so boldly deceiving parents, it is, unfortunately, food company standard practice.
The only way to know exactly what you are getting is to ignore the front of the box claims and read the Nutrition Facts and Ingredient List.
Want a truly healthy breakfast? Try oatmeal made from steel-cut or whole rolled oats, cooked in apple juice and sprinkled with hemp seed for protein. Or make a smoothie with plant milk, a banana, and soy-free plant-based protein powder (like Vega,) or nut butter. If your children still beg for boxed cereal, steer them to low sugar, less processed options like muesli and granola.