Nutrition Impostor – SnackPack Pudding

Pudding.

Yum.

Everyone loves pudding. You can make it at home from scratch. You can buy a powder mix and prepare at home more easily. Or you can buy a ready-made pudding.

SnackPack is one example of a ready-made pudding. From their website:

Now you can pack the fun into your child’s lunch, without the guilt. Snack Pack offers more than 20 flavors that contains no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, and are made with real, non-fat milk.

Sounds cool!

Let’s see what the nutrition label and ingredient label say. Just to make sure. OK?

What you need to know:

Unfortunately, Snack Pack’s website offers the talk, but does not walk the walk. Nutrition information is available for some of its products, but no product has an ingredient list available online.

Here is the ingredient list (thanks to Tamar, a fooducate community member, for sending them over to us):

Nonfat Milk, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, less than 2% of: Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.

WTF? Pardon our French, but how in the world can this company tell parents not to feel guilty when their products use trans fat and artificial dyes?

And what’s this “made with real milk” talk, when the #2 ingredient is water !?! Yep, the product uses real milk, but it uses lots of water as well (to save money?), thickens it using the corn starch, and binds it with the milk and other ingredients using Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, an emulsifier.

What to do at the supermarket:

No reason for a snack to contain trans-fats or artificial dyes. Read the ingredient list and choose something real.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kenleebow Ken Leebow

    I’m so sick of trans fats in our food supply that I created the website http://www.partiallyhydrogenated.com. Look at one example: Cheetos … on the front of the package, it boasts Zero Trans Fats…better look at the ingredients for the real facts.

    The fact that food manufacturers can state zero trans fats on the label, when in fact the product has trans fats, is an insult. And of course, it’s a known killer.

    And you know the millions of boxes of Girl Scout Thin Mints that were just sold…yep, trans fats.

    Sorry for the rant!

    • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

      Ugh, I completely agree! I was OFFENDED when I started reading labels and found out about the less-than-.5g-can-be-listed-as-zero rule.

  • WF

    Let’s stop with the sensationalism! Milk is still the #1 ingredient – so I don’t see anything wrong with their claim that it is made with real milk. And you’d need corn starch (or some other thickener) anyhow if you want a pudding you can scoop with a spoon rather than drink.

  • WF

    Let’s stop with the sensationalism! Milk is still the #1 ingredient – so I don’t see anything wrong with their claim that it is made with real milk. And you’d need corn starch (or some other thickener) anyhow if you want a pudding you can scoop with a spoon rather than drink.

    • MM

      I think the point is the front of the package conjures up images of a snack made with milk only. If it were truthful, it would say “made with SOME real milk and water”. It’s deceptive packaging which is the whole point of these posts. You have to turn the package around and read to get the real story. Since most people don’t, the company gets away with a trick. Not seeing anything wrong with the claim is indicative of the problem with the food label standards. You can get away with claiming all kinds of things as long as you stick to broadly defined policies full of loopholes. It isn’t sensationalism to remark that the second highest ingredient is water which is obviously used to cut back on the amount of milk. It’s truth. It’s pointing out yet another thing wrong with the system.

      Besides the poor nutrition, store bought pudding just tastes disgusting. My mother made homemade pudding whenever we had it growing up. You can’t even compare the tastes. I can’t imagine putting something so yucky in my child’s lunch. Who needs pudding at school anyway?

      • WF

        Let me clarify my point as to why I don’t think their label is deceptive. I don’t think any person would think that pudding is made *only* with milk from the label as it currently reads. After all, the only thing that would qualify for “made only with real milk” is — plain, fluid milk.

        The point the label is making with “made with REAL nonfat MILK” (their emphasis) is that the product is made with milk — not whey protein, or milk fractions, or processed caseinates. To save money, the company could have made the pudding using less expensive ingredients (like whey protein powder) and water.

        Because they used skim milk, I don’t think their label is misleading – and I think the ingredient is what they are emphasizing with the label, rather than a relative amount. I also think consumers know what “made with” means. In fact, “made with milk” appears on numerous packages of crackers, confectionery products, beverages, etc. in the grocery store (and even on lotions/body washes in the cosmetic aisle…), so it is not reasonable to expect there to be confusion with pudding in particular.

        In the absence of any other information, I think it is sensationalism to claim that the pudding has been diluted using “lots of water as well (to save money?)”. Ingredients are listed in decreasing order of predominance. The only thing we know is there is more milk than water (whether that ratio is 20:1 or 2:1, we have no way of knowing that it is “lots of water”). If we look at the nutrition information, a serving of the SnackPack pudding provides 1 gram of protein and 10%DV calcium. Making pudding at home with milk and a box of instant pudding mix will give you 2 grams of protein per serving and 15%DV calcium. Because of rounding rules, it is hard to say how much water has been added to “dilute” the milk in the SnackPack (1.4 grams rounds to 1, while 1.5 rounds to 2).

        • MM

          I guess we are going have to agree to disagree on this. To me, labeling it as made with real milk implies that the entire liquid portion of the product is made with milk. Saying that “made with only real milk” means it is plain old milk doesn’t really ring true as you yourself said people know what “made with” means. There is absolutely no reason to use water in pudding. I’ve made it hundreds of times from scratch. It doesn’t take a great leap to understand that the water is a substitute for the required liquid portion of the product. I understand that the ingredients are in order of quantity and that doesn’t show ratio. But, reasonably, given the other ingredients and the consistency of the product, water would have to be pretty substantial to be second on the list before sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa. As far as the calcium content, they are adding calcium carbonate to the product. Sure, they are getting some from milk but factor in the additive and that reduces how much of it is naturally occurring via the milk.

          Given how many people are eating products that are sold as healthy with these front labels that are anything but, I don’t think we can be sensationlist (though I don’t think the statement you take issue with is) about the issue. People are eating junk disguised as healthfood. Sure, there is personal responsibility for reading labels and learning what they mean but when an entire industry gets to put cute little check marks, apples, “best life”, or “only part of the story” information on packages to lure in consumers with false promises, there clearly is a problem. Pretending that it is OK to bank on customers assumming they are getting a more wholesome product than they are is just wrong.

  • http://profiles.google.com/travis.marshall Travis Marshall

    I really enjoy using the Fooducate iPhone app, and I subscribe to the blog feed as well. However, these kinds of posts aren’t very informative to those who actually read this blog.

    I don’t think ANYONE who has already navigated to Fooducate.com would think that unrefrigerated, ready-made puddings are going to be a healthy snack. Same with McNuggets, Kool-Aid, and M&Ms.

    I think posts like the Sardine recipe, Guinness, and “Portion Distortion” have much more value to those of us who read the blog.

    Just my $0.02.

    • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

      Actually, I really enjoy and appreciate these posts, and I’ve been reading for several months. Of course, I would never buy this food…but my friends and family WOULD. This gives me the perfect thing to share on Facebook so they can see what they’re consuming. And also, you have to remember that not everyone reading the posts are regulars. The way I see it, educating America about food cannot just be for those of us who already know the answers, which is why Fooducate is giving education to EVERYONE, and sadly, the general public eats pudding SnackPacks.

  • RachelLPaulsen

    People need to understand how to read labels, and understand what they mean, rather than just trusting commercials. I believe that you have to understand what you are eating, and especially in todays society where companies are targeting advertisements for food to children and by extension their parents. I also find it hard to believe that pudding has artificial dies and corn starch, which makes reading labels all the more important.

  • Chef Mike Benninger

    Sadly, products like this (and 2000+ others) only exist in the marketplace because there are numbers of consumers that demand them. As much as we might want to think that “big food” are a smelly pile of money grubbing scumbags, they are only filling demand with a legal product in a capitalist market.

    The real RESPONSIBILITY is ours, to demand better labelling laws from our lawmakers, regardless of their political stripe and better products from our manufacturers. Never forget that we consumers hold “the power” as far as items go, if we don’t buy them, they will dissappear becasue there is no profit, just like BRIM decaf and BRECK shampoo.

  • http://aucoeur.wordpress.com/ Amber @ Au Coeur

    What really stops me from buying that? It doesn’t have to be refrigerated. I’m sorry but there is no way I can be convinced that a shelf-stable product is made of dairy. If it was real pudding, it would next to the yogurt.

  • Mcross

    The Snack Pack puddings have made me extremely ill three different times I ate them. It was not until this last time I realized that was what caused it. My symptoms where that of getting food poisening and it lasted all day each time. How I know this was the issue is because it was the one food I had in common each of the three times I had it (I only ate them those three times). One was last May, one time was last June, and one time was just two days ago. It was horrible and the reaction was the same every time. Obviously there is something in the ingrediants that my body is violently responding to. And like another person’s post, I am no longer going to trust anything on the shelf that is milk based. And it wasn’t that they were expired. But I no longer trust milk products that are not in the dairy section and chilled.

  • osiris

    also GMOs Modified Corn Starch

  • pserak

    snack pack also divids one little tiny pudding container into 4 servings so they don’t have to tell you straight forwardly that by eating one you’re consuming over 400 calories– that’s absurd!

    that’s an ungodly amount of caloric intake for such a small snake, i mean 100 calories per spoonful

  • Michelle Dill

    Taste good. Not too many calories. Don’t trip.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Not too many calories because of the mouse size serving.

  • Michelle Dill

    it’s pudding. was not expecting “healthy”

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      If they wouldn’t market it as healthy we would have no issue.

  • Barbiegirl

    when a juice says made with real fruit juice do you actually believe they mean made with 100% fruit juice or just that it has some amount of real fruit juice in it??

  • Michael

    It is pudding claiming to be less unhealthy really. That’s not quite the same thing as promoting a healthy granola bar that isn’t. Also, it is fair to ask for more common sense from the public even if they don’t apply it. Because, even though they don’t, they are accountable…at least to themselves. There isn’t really a moral right for the average ignorant adult. I’m not talking about small children or the handicapped folks. I’m talking about average people. That’s fair. If we can’t handle this marketing, we are fit to walk outside our doors in the morning and go anywhere. We know marketing would go out of there way to promote ENTIRELY being made out of REAL MILK if it were. No, wait, we really do. Or we have no excuse. It’s also unreasonable to criticize water. I’m not sure all milk is really the healthier idea. HOWEVER, it’s also fair to educate. That’s what makes having no excuses fair. And three points that were vital here are: 1) Trans Fats. Hate that. 2) misleading serving size meaning that one container is a calorie nightmare. Eating two is easy. And 3) Yellow 5 & 6. I’m slightly less bothered on this one, but still.
    Those are the highlights to me. It is a sinful delight category, which is why I’m calling people accountable for themselves when dipping into this category. And like was said, it is on the shelf, not the fridge. People need to start helping themselves. However, education is good. Trans Fats are bad and most may not know they are in this product. The calories are deceitfully high. Good to avoid.