This week, as millions of American children return to classrooms and lunchrooms, moms and dads are trying to sort out which pre-made food products are conducive to learning and a healthy diet and which are flashy, sophisticated packages of junk food.
Nestlé, which deems itself “the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company” has teamed up with Kraft Foods to sell three of its candy brands (Nestlé, Crunch, Nerds, and Kit Kat) in Kraft’s Lunchables. Nestle candy is included in “Lunchables with Juice” varieties containing “Light Bologna and American Cracker Stacker,” “Pizza with Pepperoni made with Pork, Chicken and Beef,” and “Nachos, Cheese Dip and Salsa.” A picture of Nestlé candy is featured prominently on Lunchables product packaging:
The inclusion of Nestlé candy in these products is perplexing because Nestlé maintains a health and nutrition-focused website for parents called NestleFamily.com where it proffers tips for packing healthy school lunches by Dr. Christine Wood. A look at four of Nestlé’s healthy lunch tips reveals that Kraft Lunchables products with Nestlé candy fall short.
The first tip: “Pack 100% juice boxes.”
- Nestlé candy is included in three varieties of Lunchables that contain either Capri Sun juice drink pouches sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and juice concentrate or a 30-calorie Capri Sun flavored water sweetened with sucralose and high fructose corn syrup.
Tip two: “Try to limit the frequency of using processed luncheon meats because of the nitrates in them. (Nitrates are preservatives found in many cooked and cured meats and should be given sparingly to young children.)”
- Nestlé candy is included in Lunchables that contain processed meats. Those meats are: Pepperoni Slices (PEPPERONI MADE WITH PORK, CHICKEN AND BEEF–BHA, BHT AND CITRIC ACID ADDED TO HELP PROTECT FLAVOR: PORK, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, BEEF, SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF PORK STOCK, SPICES, DEXTROSE, LACTIC ACID STARTER CULTURE, OLEORESIN OF PAPRIKA, FLAVORING, SODIUM ASCORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID) and; “Light Bologna”( BOLOGNA MADE WITH CHICKEN & PORK: MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, WATER, PORK, CORN SYRUP, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, POTASSIUM LACTATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, FLAVOR, SODIUM NITRITE, EXTRACTIVES OF PAPRIKA, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SUGAR, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE).
Tip three: “Your kids will be more interested in healthy eating if they get involved in the preparation.”
- Assembled in a factory far away from home, kids could not be less involved in the preparation of Lunchables.
Tip four: Use fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Lunchables with Light Bologna and American Cracker Stacker contains no fruits or vegetables other than the fruit juice concentrate contained in the Capri Sun juice pouch. The other two Lunchables lines with Nestlé candy include salsa or pizza sauce. Neither these nor the other lines of Lunchables feature fresh produce.
NestleFamily.com says “Packing a healthy lunch for your kids can be a challenge!” It sure can. Especially when food manufacturers talk healthy foods and walk junk.