As the new year approaches, and with it a multitude of resolutions for a healthier behavior, we will be seeing many new announcements about nutrition, foods and exercise contraptions.
Getting a head start is Frito-Lay, the savory snack stalwart owned by PepsiCo. Yesterday the company announced major changes in its lineup. In fact,
“This is the largest evolution we’ve ever had in our product line,” says Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay. Until now, she says, 30% of its line was “all natural.” For example:
• A bag of Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips will lose all of these additives: monosodium glutamate, sodium diacetate and artificial colors.
• Lay’s Barbeque chips will drop the monosodium glutamate and some other additives.
Unfortunately, Doritos and Cheetos are not included in the changes.
What you need to know:
Let us be perfectly clear. Fooducate applauds the removal of unhealthy additives from food products.
But as we wrote just last week, “Natural” is an unregulated term. It is misleading because it adds a health halo to products that do not deserve one. Potato chips are not healthy. Tostitos are not healthy. They are salty, fatty snacks that should be consumed occasionally at best.
Frito-Lay’s motivation is to increase sales of its products and to take back market share from smaller rivals who have been playing the “natural” ticket for several years. If Frito-Lay can additionally spin a PR story to appear interested in our health, even better.
If junk food companies would really care about our health, they wouldn’t peddle soft drinks and empty calorie snacks to our children. They wouldn’t spend billions in advertising and product placement to get us to eat MORE MORE MORE snacks. They would re-invent themselves to create totally new brands, back to basics foods.
Bottom line: “All Natural” junk food is still junk food. You should not be tempted to consume more just because some ingredients have been removed.
What to do at the supermarket:
It’s good to know that if and when you purchase an occasional snack, it’s made with ingredients you would most likely find in your pantry. Always check the ingredient list to see you are not buying snacks with partially hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans-fat), excessive salt (over 200mg per serving), or additives of dubious nutritional value.