OMG! Why are there Over 70 Ingredients in Kellogg’s Fiber Plus Antioxidants Cereal?

Kellogg’s is copying a page from General Mills’ Fiber One playbook, and is offering a fiber rich cereal line for our healthy dining pleasure. And they’ve one-upped their competitor by adding those magical purchase-inducing antioxidants into the mix.

Hoping to create a cereal that is more tasty and visually appealing than Fiber One, Fiber Plus comes with colorful yogurt and fruit clusters.

Boasting 40% of the daily fiber, this sounds like a great start to your morning, not to mention the yogurt, the berries, and the antioxidants.

We took a look at the label…

What you need to know:

In addition to the fiber, you get 12 grams of sugars, which is the equivalent of three teaspoons worth.

The sodium count is quite high too – 200mg is 9% of the daily max, and certainly not something you’d expect to find in a sweet morning cereal.

A 1 cup serving is almost 2 ounces by weight, which is twice the amount of food compared to puffed cereals.  That also explains the relatively high calorie count – 170 vs an average of 120 for other cereals.

But the real story of this cereal lies in the ingredient list. You can tell it ain’t pretty just by its length:

WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT, SUGAR, RICE, CHICORY ROOT FIBER, MIXED BERRY FLAVORED CLUSTERS (ROLLED OATS, SUGAR, OAT FIBER, CORN BRAN, CORN SYRUP, WHEAT STARCH, HONEY, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, CORN CEREAL, CANOLA OIL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, CARAMEL COLOR, MALT EXTRACT, STRAWBERRY POWDER, CITRIC ACID, GLYCERIN, BHT [PRESERVATIVE], RED #40, BLUE #2, CELLULOSE GUM, GREEN #3, BLUE #1, RED #40 LAKE, BLUE #2 LAKE), MODIFIED WHEAT STARCH, SOLUBLE CORN FIBER, MALT FLAVORING, SALT, ROLLED OATS, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, INULIN, OAT FIBER, NONFAT DRY MILK, CORN BRAN, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, GLYCERIN, WHEAT STARCH, CORN SYRUP, HONEY, APPLE PUREE CONCENTRATE, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, STRAWBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, KIWI JUICE CONCENTRATE, WHEY, MONOGLYCERIDES, SOY LECITHIN, CORN STARCH, NONFAT YOGURT POWDER (HEAT TREATED AFTER CULTURING), CANOLA OIL, INVERT SUGAR, STRAWBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), CINNAMON, FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES, RED RASPBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, GUAR GUM, BLUEBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, NIACINAMIDE, MALT EXTRACT, CARAMEL COLOR, CITRIC ACID, VITAMIN D, ALPHA TOCOPHEROL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), BHT (PRESERVATIVE), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), BETA CAROTENE (SOURCE OF VITAMIN A), FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12.

We lost count after 70 ingredients. For your viewing convenience, we’ve marked all the sources of sweet in BOLD, and all the sources of fiber as underlined. Note how many different ways they’ve come up with to push fiber into this product. You’d never consume this much fiber from a plain whole food.

The FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES are both fiber and sweetener at the same time. A darling of the food industry since the 1980′s, this ingredient is sourced naturally from chicory roots, banana, onions, leeks, and other veggies. It’s only 30-50% as sweet as sugar, but hey, it’s got fiber!

Let’s move on. The cereal contains additional “goodies”.  For example, the entire lineup of artificial colors approved by the FDA, but sadly shown to cause neurological problems in kids. In Europe they’re phasing ‘em out. Here? Dream on.

Another swell ingredient: FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL. Palm kernel oil is VERY high in saturated fat; fractionating it makes it even more saturated. This means the melting point is higher, meaning solid at room temperature, meaning this is what creates the cutesy little yogurt clusters in the cereal (the oil is mixed with the “non-fat yogurt powder” hiding somewhere in the ingredient list).

BHT, used here as a preservative, is also a suspected carcinogen.

Yes, there are strawberries and blueberries thrown in here, at amounts barely worth mentioning. It’s not that they contribute to the flavor at all. For that we’ve got loads of artificial and natural flavors in the list.

What about antioxidants, you may ask. After all, they are a part of the product name. According to Kellogg’s, the cereal offers antioxidant vitamins C and E.

Sure it does, as added ingredients, not naturally occurring in the fruit clusters, heaven forbid. Lame. Very lame.

This product is a feat of food engineering, so kudos to Kellogg’s scientists. But at what price? Why such a long list of ingredients, many of which are superfluous?

And why do we need to get so much fiber concentrated into one bowl of breakfast cereal? When we consume foods that naturally contain a certain amount of fiber, they leave us fuller than when fiber is tacked on like sticky notes to frenzied secretary’s computer screen. With this cereal, there’s a higher chance we’ll consume too much fiber too fast, especially since many people eat more than the recommended single serving size.

Note: there’s a warning on the package for “New users” – Increase your fiber intake gradually. Gastrointestinal discomfort may occur until your body adjusts.

One parting thought from the world of computers. Microsoft is well known for its feature bloat – just think of all the functions in WORD or EXCEL that you’ve never used, or tried to and got so flabbergasted as the software crashed. Now compare to the simplicity of Apple’s products, such as the iPhone, with only one button. Simplicity is so much better for the user. But it is so much harder to remove features, to focus on just the right ones, than it is to lazily leave them all in.

As a challenge to Kellogg’s, how about a cereal that will tantalize consumers, delight dietitians, fascinate Fooducate, and contain only 3 ingredients?

Get Fooducated

  • Paula

    A 3 ingredient cereal? You can make your own.
    Oatmeal, fruit (I prefer bananas), water

  • J in VA

    Mom’s Best Naturals makes a four ingredient cereal called sweetened Wheat-fuls (similar to frosted mini-wheats); whole grain wheat; evaporated, milled sugar, gelatin and Vit E for freshness.

    No, no the best. But, beter than many when you do want cold cereal.

  • Nicole

    Just wanted to add that the berries they boast in the cereal name and box front are too far down on the ingredients list to be useful. There is more cinnamon in this cereal than blueberries and raspberries. When something is that low on the list, you know you’re not getting any nutritional benefit from it–and it’s added purely for marketing reasons so that they can put pictures of berries and claim it has antioxidants on the front of the box. One great tip I’ve learned from Marion Nestle is that anything added after salt (much of the ingredients here) are in too trivial in amount to be of any benefit. That would actually include every fruit-based ingredient in this cereal.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff

      @Nicole “anything added after salt (much of the ingredients here) are in too trivial in amount to be of any benefit” – LOVE it. Will use this approach in future product analysis.

  • annie

    grody to the max

  • http://www.feedyourheaddiet.com Ken Leebow

    Thanks for the good laugh, otherwise I’d cry.

    I’ll stick with my Fiber One…with tons-o-fruit thrown in.

  • Monica

    i wonder if the people who eat this sit on the toilet all day.

  • Jason

    Nice write up.

    However, I could have done without the Microsoft-Apple analogy. The only thing I gathered from that is that you love Apple and would like to put down Microsoft. Here’s a post-it note for you. It reads, “Congratulations!”

  • http://520eastbrands.com Shane Shaps

    Thanks for the post. Wow! It’s so sad how companies try to fool ppl into thinking they are healthy when they are no better than the sugary stuff. Thanks for calling them out!

  • Miranda

    Yucky!

  • Mendy Heaps

    But it’s such a pretty box…

  • http://usefuldissident.blogspot.com/ dissident

    @Mendy Heaps
    I was fooled too. On first taste, it’s ok, until you start bloating and farting.

  • Sierra

    I can’t believe I fell for this… I usually read labels. I bought 2 boxes since they were on sale, and I have been trying to eat more fiber to help with my high cholesterol. I wondered why I was feeling really bloated, and I have probably farted more in the last week than I have in 30+ years put together!!! I finally searched “does high fiber cereal make you fart” to try to figure out what was going on. Survey says its the chicory root, ingredient number 4!!! Lesson learned!!!

  • band mom

    Probably the same reason Raisin Bran has 17 grams of sugar for 1 cup of cereal. Why do you have to put sugar on raisins?