It’s back to school season and we’re taking a look at foods many parents are likely to pack in their kids bags. Lunchables is a very successful brand that we have reviewed in the past. Our conclusion then was that even a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly was better for your child.
That’s why we were pleasantly surprised to see that Kraft has recently introduced 4 new Lunchable products, each with a “full serving” of fruit. The fruit serving is courtesy of Dole, for example pineapple chunks in juice.
From the Lunchables’ website for Ham+American Cracker Stackers:
Piled high with the goodness your kids will enjoy every time. This lunchtime option is a delicious combo of lean ham and crackers made with 5 grams of whole grain per serving. Plus, it’s packed with Dole mandarin oranges in 100% fruit juices.
- Crackers Made with 5g Whole Grain per serving
- Good Source of Protein, Vitamin C
Is this really something worth packing in your kids’ backpacks?
What you need to know:
Here is the ingredients list:
Pineapple Tidbits – Pineapple, Pineapple Juice, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Citric Acid.
Cooked Ham – Water Added – Chopped And Formed – Smoked Flavor Added – Ham, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of Sodium Lactate, Potassium Chloride, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Potassium Lactate, Sodium Diacetate, Salt, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Smoke Flavor.
Reduced Fat Pasteurized Process American Cheese – Part-skim Milk, Skim Milk, Milkfat, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Cheese Culture, Sorbic Acid As A Preservative, Lactic Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Enzymes, Vitamin A Palmitate, Apocarotenal (Color), With Starch Added For Slice Separation. Contains: Milk.
Crackers – Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda And/or Calcium Phosphate), Whey (From Milk), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor. Contains: Wheat, Milk, Soy.
Natural Flavored Strawberry Fruit Stick – Strawberry Ingredients Made With 90% Fruit Ingredients (Pear Puree From Concentrate, Pear Juice From Concentrate, Strawberry Juice From Concentrate, Blueberry Juice From Concentrate) (Natural Source Of Vitamin C), Natural Cane Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Rice Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Strawberry Flavor, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Sodium Citrate, Pectin, Purple Carrot Extract.
As you can see, while boasting the fact that the crackers are made with whole grains, Kraft uses partially hydrogenated oils (aka Trans-fat) in their production. Not cool. And those 5 grams of while grains translate to merely 2 grams of fiber.
Just seeing that the ham is “chopped and formed” should give you a hint as to the quality of the meat. But the nitrites are what you should be worried about. They are used as a preservative but are potentially carcinogenic.
Lastly, the “Naturally Flavored Strawberry Fruit Stick” is basically an amalgamation of sugars (we’ve marked them all in bold). The vitamin C which is highlighted as a marketing message is a fortification.
On the positive side, Kraft has made some strides here:
The inclusion of more fruit in the pack is commendable. The fact that artificial colorings are not used in the fruit snack is worth mentioning as well. (UPDATE: The PB&J Lunchables does use Red #40. Bummer).
Our verdict: still not good enough for our kids. Keep trying Kraft, hopefully you’ll get there…
What to do at the supermarket:
While the cutesy package is super convenient for parents, it is very expensive for what you get. You can pack a better lunch for you child easily, with just a bit of preparation. Buy crackers without trans fats. Choose quality meats without nitrates or nitrites. And as for fruit snacks, how about fruit as snacks?