The NEW Special K Cereal Bars [Nutrition Impostors]

A few days ago, Kellogg’s announced it was adding more fiber to its Special K cereal bars, and introducing 2 new flavors. This was an interesting opportunity to examine the bars, fooducate style.

What you need to know:

We’re sorry to report that the Special-K brand is doing an enormous disservice to its constituents. It is using the Special-K health halo to peddle an overly processed candy bar in disguise.

They packed all the following ingredients in just 90 calories:

CEREAL (RICE, WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT, SUGAR, WHEAT BRAN, SALT, SOLUBLE WHEAT FIBER, MALT FLAVORING, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, DISTILLED MONOGLYCERIDES, MALTODEXTRIN, THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], NIACINAMIDE, REDUCED IRON, FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, SOLUBLE CORN FIBER, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL, SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS)†, CORN SYRUP, FRUCTOSE, MALTODEXTRIN, DEXTROSE, WHEAT FLOUR, RASPBERRY CEREAL PIECES (RICE, SUGAR, RASPBERRY PUREE CONCENTRATE, WHOLE WHEAT, WHEAT GLUTEN, NONFAT DRY MILK, DEFATTED WHEAT GERM, WHEAT FLOUR, SALT, MALT FLAVORING, VITAMIN C BLEND [SODIUM ASCORBATE, ASORBIC ACID], NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN B6, VITAMIN D, THIAMIN [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12), CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF SORBITOL, GLYCERIN, NONFAT DRY MILK, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL RASPBERRY FLAVOR, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL CREAM CHEESE FLAVOR, SOY LECITHIN, MOLASSES, SALT, BEET JUICE POWDER FOR COLOR, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, CALCIUM PROPIONATE (PRESERVATIVE), COLOR ADDED, NIACINAMIDE, RED #40, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), BLUE #1.

We’ve highlighted the sources of fiber, some are whole foods like whole grain wheat and its bran. Others are more processed – soluble wheat and corn fibers.

The source of sweetness in this bar is not the raspberries, but rather multiple sugar and corn syrups, including high fructose corn syrup. The tiny amount of raspberry puree concentrate probably adds a bit of sweetness too, but not flavor. That’s what the natural and artificial raspberry flavor ingredients are for.

The “fun” starts with all the ingredients we’ve marked in red – partially hydrogenated oils aka trans-fats, artificial colors that can cause cancer or play with your mind, and 2 preservatives of dubious nature TBHQ and BHT.

Special-K – you’ve been called out. Is this the best you can do for the dieting community?

What to do at the supermarket:

When you see an ingredient list this long, it’s a sure sign this is a product you don’t want to put in your shopping cart. Choose bars that have a short list, preferably with ingredients that a layperson would understand.
Nutrition Impostors is a new segment on the Fooducate blog which will showcase items we are led believe are healthy, when in fact they are quite the opposite. Please suggest impostors for the upcoming segments.

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  • Michelle Mercurio

    Their cereals are barely any better…all sugar, fake sugar, artificial flavors and nothing of nutritional value. HOW on Earth has Special K managed to position itself as a “healthy,” “serious” breakfast “food” when it is, literally, no better than Trix or Fruity Pebbles? The only thing we eat out of the cereal aisle is plain, old-fashioned oats. Everything else (yes, even Kashi and the other quaintly packaged, little country store looking organics) has some form of sugar as its 2nd or 3rd ingredient and nothing worth eating in the rest of the list.

  • Lauren Slayton

    I still can’t believe clients adhere to the Special K brand because of its longstanding diety reputatation. I had to scroll and scroll for that ingredient list, isn’t that enough to tell people Special K isn’t special and definitely not OK.

  • Gretchen C.

    I would be interested in hearing about the Fiber One bars. I heard so much about them from extended family members, but when I tried a sample at the grocery store I couldn’t bring myself to buy them due to their taste…yuck! I have never looked at their labeling. Any cereal bar, for me anyway, isn’t sustaining enough to keep me from being hungry for more than about an hour. Oatmeal and bananas are my favorite breakfast choices.

    • Jillian R.

      I like the Fibre One cereals, not so much their bars. I find them too sweet and an hour after eating them I’m craving for another one. Definitely not something I would eat if I were on a diet.

  • Lisagajadhar

    I tried it one time and couldnt believe how sweet it was and thought how could it be healthy and that was before i was into reading lAbels! i never ate it again

  • http://ithinkitneedsmoreturbinado.blogspot.com/ S.L.

    GROSS. I was just shuddering at a blog where the writer said they liked Special K with brown sugar. I avoid red 40 like crazy and so should everyone else.

  • Angelaacreamer

    I would like to see an article on low calorie, “healthy” frozen meals like Healthy Choice and Weight Watchers Smart Ones.

  • http://www.foodieformerlyfat.com Foodie, Formerly Fat

    Easy solution: make your own granola bars. I know it sounds insane to most people, but it’s not actually hard. You can have a meal replacement bar that’s made of good wholesome ingredients fresh from your own kitchen. I’ve been known to pop them in a zip-top bag and keep them in the glove compartment for the kids (or me) to much on when hungry. It doesn’t take much time and they are so good you won’t believe they are good for you even though they are.