Is that TRANS-FAT in Your Fruit?

A New York woman is suing General Mills for misleading and false advertising. The products in question are Fruit Roll-Ups, which are sold through General Mills’ Betty Crocker subsidiary. The complaint – while the products are marketed as healthy, they contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (a source of trans-fat).


Lets take a look at an example: “Fruit by the Foot”.

What you need to know:

Here’s what you get in the ingredient list:

Pears from Concentrate, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil. Contains 2% or Less of: Carrageenan, Citric Acid, Acetylated Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Potassium Citrate, Natural Flavor, Color (Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1).

Sugar galore, trans-fat through the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and an assortment of artificial colors (see yesterday’s post).

Although the nutrition facts panel says the tran-fat content is nil, it’s because of an FDA loophole that lets manufacturers round down the value to zero if it is less than 0.5 grams per serving. Unfortunately, no amount of trans-fat is healthy, even 0.45 grams.

What to do at the supermarket:

When buying fruit products such as dried fruit and roll ups, look for minimally processed items. The sugar in fruit makes them sweet enough, and when dried, the sweetness is even more concentrated.

  • thenontoxicmom

    While lawsuits have become an overdone practice in our society, I love the idea of going after evil food companies. Let the suing begin!

  • Madison

    Your website intrigues me. I read back to May 1st and while your website has some really, really good things, two contradictions stand out. First, you seem to HATE non-organic food. Second, you seem to HATE the natural sugar in fruit. Do you want genetically modified reduced sugar fruit? Seriously?

    I eat pretty darn nutritiously (essentially what is the Mediterranean diet) due to food allergies of gluten, meat, and dairy. I’m allowed fish, eggs, and rice. Otherwise, it’s all fruits and veggies and the oil used is ALWAYS extra virgin olive oil.

    You say you want people to eat lots of fruit and yet you think fruit has too much sugar. While you’re better than a vast majority of food websites I’ve read, you’re still a nutrition nut and I don’t mean that in a good way. I compare nutrition nuts to fundamentalist Christians. Good intentions. Terrible people. For the record, I’m from Seattle; I think you’re from San Francisco? Good. We’re on the same page about Fundamentalist Christians and Gay Marriage. w00t.

    Anyway, good stuff. I’ll probably keep an eye on it from time to time, but get real. Good nutrition is key, but a Happy Meal every now and again, pop around the house, and limits on screen time is what actually keeps kids healthy. Through my childhood pop, chips, and sugary cereals were all readily available and *gasp* I ate a school lunch every day grades K-10 (adult onset food allergies). I don’t seem any worse for the wear. What I do observe about my childhood though is that I walked to school up a giant hill every day, never stopped playing outside at Recess, did athletics, and was extremely active throughout all of my education.

    High activity and modestly good nutrition are the keys to being healthy. Not compulsive nutrition and modestly good amounts of activity.

    • Editorial Staff

      @Madison – thanks for the compliments and constructive criticism :-) I’m actually a firm believer in the 80/20 rule of life, nutrition included. Sugar is not evil, and I don’t think sugar from fruit is a problem for most people. But please don’t call the fruit rolls in this post, or froot loops, or pop tarts filled with fruit a fruit product.
      And yes, in our home there is candy, and artificial things that my kids ingest, and even some with stuff I adamantly write against. And their grandma takes them every once in a while to McDonalds, but happily they don’t really eat there just get the shake. 80/20.
      problem is for most people 80/20 has become 20/80, partially due to dirty marketing tactics by the junk food industry.
      As for organic, the approach is – great if you can afford it, but if not don’t kill yourself over it. buy conventional veggies and eat them. same for fruit. My one personal peeve is strawberries. I prefer organic and will try to minimize conventional for my kids as this “berry” behaves like a sponge and gets soaked with pesticides.
      So when you think about what we’re doing here on this blog – it’s more about helping people make incremental improvements in their choices, rather than some fundamentalist extremism.
      I hope most of our readers consider me as a good intentioned & good person, that’s how I try to live my life.

  • Monica

    Editorial Staff,

    you do a great job. I read your blog every day.

  • Mendy Heaps

    My school cafeteria sells this crap like crazy! I see kids in my classes who eat 5 or 6 a day. I’m sure their unconcerned parents don’t have a clue what’s actually in them, and I bet the school cafeteria doesn’t care either ($$$$$$).
    Manufacturers should be honest and I love this woman for taking General Mills Betty Crocker to court. I hope she wins and it encourages others to do the same.
    I keep waiting for someone with heart disease or diabetes to sue a school district for feeding them so much of this crap when they were a kid when they knew it wasn’t good for them! Any health/personal injury attorneys reading this???
    Also…I love this blog. I learn something new from you almost every day, and always pass it on to my friends, family and students. Keep up the awesome work you do!

  • Dr. Susan Rubin

    Fruit Rollups were the reason I got involved in school food advocacy 15 years ago. I was a dentist in private practice at the time and my kids brought home empty fruit rollup wrappers from school. This product helps make dentists rich! I was offended that my school would sell this crap in the cafeteria.

    Keep in mind this was before hydrogenated oils were outed as a source of trans fat. I was all about the sugar at the time.
    Sadly, this junk remains in my school, reformulated as Welch’s all natural fruit chews. Basically the same junk, the same blood sugar high and the same cavity causing chewy gooey sugar.

    If I had remained a dentist, drilling, filling and billing, I’d be sitting on a boatload of cash right now. Instead, I’m fighting for our children’s health.