Oatwashing: Inside the Label of Pop Tarts Oatmeal Delights

You’ve heard of healthwashing . . . but welcome to the latest trend – oatwashing.

Oatwashing: Taking a mostly unhealthy product, adding the word oatmeal to its name and watching the sales roll in. See: Kellogg’s Pop Tarts Oatmeal Delights.

With less oat flour than all other flours combined and grand total of “less than 2%” of whole grain oats, it’s a wonder Kellogg’s gets to use the word “oatmeal” in the product name.

But is this healthier than regular Pop Tarts?

Actually, yes, but it has little to do with the oat flour and the oats. It has more whole grains flour than white flour, no artificial colors, 3 grams of fiber per serving and significantly less sugar than other versions of Pop Tarts.

But don’t go eating it just now! This oatwashed toaster pastry is still full of controversial ingredients, such as TBHQ, DATEM, and sodium stearoyl lactylate.

Our take: if this product gets someone to stop eating regular Pop Tarts, that’s a movement in the right direction. Our motto is “Eat a bit better” and this is better than most other Pop Tarts products.

However, if you don’t normally eat Pop Tarts, this oatwashed toaster pastry is certainly no reason to start.

  • mw

    Is the “contains less than two percent of” for the polydextrose?

    • Kevin

      Since ingredients are listed by how much they are used in the product, everything following polydextrose would need to be used less, so all that follows would be less than two percent of the product.

  • mkj

    I notice on the front label that the number 8, referring to that good source of vitamins and minerals, is so close to the words ‘whole grain’ that the first glance might have you thinking there’s 8 grams of fiber per serving. The reality is 3g. And 8 g. of fiber is that magic turning point of what’s considered healthy on a label. geez.

    • carol

      3 grams of fiber is “good source” and also the threshold/minimum for use in a “healthy” statement when no other nutrients are at 10% or greater.

  • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/ Bill

    I can think of no good reason why anyone should eat poptarts, oatmeal or otherwise. Of course when companies slap words like “oatmeal” on the labels of their processed crap, they prey on people who KNOW they need to improve their diets and mislead them into believing they can do so and still eat things like poptarts.

    • SassyKitty

      I pack Breakfast and lunch for my Husband for work. I try to stay healthy, usually he has cereal and fruit for Breakfast. We never ate pop tarts, maybe ocassionally as a dessert. There are days when he’s driving the truck and can’t have cereal, oatmeal, egg whites, or anything healthy. I started buying unhealthy bagels and such for those days until I saw oatmeal pop tarts. They are 100 % healthier than anything else I could give him on those days, ( he is picky about breakfast). We are not mislead, just caught in a hard place. That is my good reason for buying oatmeal pop tarts. They have taken them off the shelves, I can’t buy them anymore so we’re back to bagels and cream cheese.

  • James Cooper

    TBHQ, DATEM, and sodium stearoyl lactylate have all been approved as safe by the USDA and the European food safety authority. Where is the controversy?

  • carol

    Whole grain oat flour is the same thing (nutritionally and in every other way except degree of milling) as whole grain oats, so there actually is more than 2% of whole grain oats. If they were smarter, they would have combined the weight of those two ingredients and possibly been able to put it before one of the sweeteners.
    BTW, I don’t think “cracker meal” is an allowed ingredient name, because it doesn’t tell what kind of crackers or what their sub-ingredients are. “Cracker” is not a grain (although you can be sure it is mostly refined wheat).

    • mkj

      if you add it separately, it must be listed separately. If it comes out of 2 separate containers, it cannot be called the same thing. I was not nearly as hopeful as you with the label ;-) . Having worked with the program that makes nutrition labels, it can be skewed endlessly. Nearly positive that 3g. of fiber is a result of rounding.

      • carol

        That is suggested (to use the “common and usual name”), but since there is no difference except for degree of milling/processing, it isn’t an allergen (or nutrition) issue to state them both as “oats”. Companies FREQUENTLY list ingredients in a more “general” / ambiguous way. For instance, most kale “chips” state “cashews” when they are really using cashew butter; “flax seed” can mean whole seed or ground (unfortunately… because there is a big difference from a bio-availability standpoint); and tomato paste, pulp or puree can be/is described as “tomato concentrate” in many instances. CH

  • Lisa

    I’m not gonna lie: I miss Poptarts. I wouldn’t touch them now, and they probably wouldn’t even taste the same, but I remember the way they used to taste right out of the package on a Saturday morning. #childhood

  • Ms_s

    I’ve tried them and still have 1 left in the box, they aren’t that great as they make it out to be. The little swirl frosting barely covers the pastry and the oats are so buried into the “whole grain” that you can barely tastes it. Overall, it reminded me of a treat than a healthy pastry for breakfast. Today, I took out a package and one pastry had a whole in the middle leaking dry strawberry filling all over it and had to throw it away! I could have brought it back to Walmart and complained about it, but its too much of a hassle. I would rate this pop tart as a 5/10. I prefer the original pop tarts better even though its like having a treat. My fav will always be the chocolate and Smores ones!