Buy It & Try It: Fake food

(National) March 11, 2004 - Over the years, Consumer Reports' Erin Gudeux has come across quite a few items that aren't all they seem.

One example is Hungry Jack Blueberry Pancake and Waffle Mix. Like a lot of mixes that call themselves "blueberry," it's certainly got blue bits, but they're not very berry. The bits you see are actually dextrose.

Gudeux says that's partially hydrogenated oil, cellulose gum and dye, none of which grow on a blueberry bush, "Well, another example we found is this Betty Crocker Twice Baked Bacon and Cheddar potatoes."

Without a close look, you could easily miss the words "Artificially Flavored" just underneath bacon, "There's actually no bacon in the bacon and cheddar potatoes."

White Chocolate Jello Pudding is another "fake food" offender. Thanks to artificial coloring, it's the color of white chocolate, but cocoa butter, the key ingredient in white chocolate, is nowhere to be found.

Gudeux has lot's of examples, "One of the most extreme examples I've ever seen is this Jolly Time Blast-o-butter Popcorn." The box says it's "the most buttery." In fact, it's "butter-riffic." And, according to the "butter-meter," it's off the charts. So Erin was "butterly confused" when she found there is no butter in this popcorn at all.

Instead, you'll find Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, "These companies aren't doing anything illegal. They are following labeling regulations. Unfortunately that means sometimes the consumer has to do a little extra work."

So the next time you're in the supermarket, you'll want to check labels closely to be sure what you're really getting.

Reported by Judi Gatson
Posted 5:44pm by BrettWitt

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2003 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED