Inside the Label: Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables Turkey & Cheddar Cracker Stackers

It’s not the most important meal of the day. And it’s not the heartiest either. Lunch, the get-it-on-the-run or have-it-at-the-computer meal doesn’t get enough respect. And how could it, when products like Oscar Meyer’s Lunchable’s take its name in vain.

We tried and tried to find something healthy and nutritious among the dozens of Lunchable products. Unfortunately all we encountered was a nutrition desert, left in shambles by sodium blizzards and trans fat torrents.

Read on for an analysis of Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables Turkey & Cheddar Cracker Stackers

What you need to know:
The nutrition label says that a serving is 4.5 oz, or the entire package. It contains “turkey”, “cheese”, and crackers.

The whole deal is 330 calories, which is not too bad for lunch. Half the calories are from fat, but that’s to be expected in cheese and meat products. Unfortunately the 9 grams of saturated fat are 45% of the daily maximum value.

And there is also 1 gram of trans fat, something you don’t want to consume even in such small quantities. For some strange reason, the nice folks at Kraft’s website marked this 1 gram as 0% of the daily value. This course is a mistake, as the FDA has not defined a daily value for trans fat; you shouldn’t consume any.

There’s 65 mg of cholesterol or 22% of the daily maximum, which we could live with if it weren’t for the high saturated fat content.

But then comes the shocker – 1100 mg of sodium. This is 45% of the daily maximum value for healthy adults.

Oh well, at least you get 30% of your recommended intake of calcium from this “meal”.

Next, the ingredient list. Very annoying because it’s all CAPITAL LETTERS. It’s not easy to understand where one element begins and another ends. However, you basically can tell, even before you start reading it, that this ain’t no health food.

Ingredients: ROAST WHITE TURKEY – CURED, SMOKE FLAVOR ADDED: WHITE TURKEY, WATER, POTASSIUM LACTATE, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, DEXTROSE, CARRAGEENAN, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, SMOKE FLAVOR, SODIUM NITRITE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR. PASTEURIZED PREPARED CHEDDAR CHEESE PRODUCE: MILK, WHEY, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MILKFAT, SODIUM CITRATE, SALT, LACTIC ACID, SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), CHEESE CULTURE, ENZYMES, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, WITH STARCH ADDED FOR SLICE SEPARATION. CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT CRACKERS: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2],FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), WHEY (FROM MILK), SOY LECITHIN (EMULSIFIER). CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK, SOY.

here is how we would like to see the ingredient list appear on the package and on the web (and if there’s not enough room, take off some marketing claims):
Ingredients: Roast White Turkey – Cured, Smoke Flavor Added: White Turkey, Water, Potassium Lactate, Modified Corn Starch, Contains Less Than 2% Of Salt, Dextrose, Carrageenan, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Smoke Flavor, Sodium Nitrite, Natural And Artificial Flavor.
Pasteurized Prepared Cheddar Cheese Product: Milk, Whey, Milk Protein Concentrate, Milkfat, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Lactic Acid, Sorbic Acid As A Preservative, Oleoresin Paprika (Color), Annatto (Color), Cheese Culture, Enzymes, Whey Protein Concentrate, With Starch Added For Slice Separation. Contains: Milk, Wheat
Crackers: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2],Folic Acid), Soybean Oil, Whole Wheat Flour, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate), Whey (From Milk), Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier). Contains: Wheat, Milk, Soy.

Some of the ingredients, explained:

Modified Cornstarch – an additive used as a thickener. Corn starches are modified so they won’t lose their thickening properties when heated.

Potassium Lactate (E326) – A natural acid produced by bacteria in fermented foods. Used as preservatives, mainly against yeasts and fungi.

Sodium Diacetate (E262) – An acid used as a preservative. Appears naturally but is commercially produced cheaply as well.

Sodium Nitrite (E250) – A naturally occurring mineral used as a preservative in meat products against bacteria that cause botulism. Unfortunately it’s a precursor of carcinogenic nitrosamines, which are especially reactive in young children.

Pasteurized Prepared Cheddar Cheese Product – the cheddar product is not really cheese because it contains less than 51% cheese.

Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil – this is where the trans fat comes from.

Conclusion: If you love your spouse and/or child, instead of packing a lunchables meal in their backpack tomorrow morning as they set off for the day, bury it in the backyard.

What to do at the supermarket:

Stay away from these inventions. Even a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly is better.

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  • http://www.agave-syrup.net Agave Syrup

    what shocking information.. Especially how deceptive the nutrition information is. I will never buy one of these

  • Lava928

    ick and so many kids consume these “food” regularly.