Introducing Busted, my new series on products that are marketed to be healthy but whose ingredients may be deemed questionable.  I present the information, you decide what to do with it.

When I was in my early 20’s my breakfast would generally consist of a big bowl of Special K cereal with skim milk.  Kellogg’s then introduced Special K Red Berries and that became my favourite.  Cereal AND fruit together in one box?  Perfect.  I was blissfully unaware that freeze-dried, conventionally-grown strawberries did not count as a serving of fruit.

Now, years later Special K has a new cereal with the tagline “this cereal satisfies your hunger to help you resist temptation.”

Meet Special K’s Satisfaction cereal

Here’s a look at the (Canadian) ingredient list:

A bit frightening, yes?  There’s an awful lot of scary looking words in that ingredient list.  Let’s break it down –

Artificial flavours – Since there is no further information provided, artificial flavours could mean anything. 

BHT (butylated hydroxytoulene) – As stated on Kellogg’s website, BHT is “an anti-oxidant that is used to preserve the freshness of foods.  Some Kellogg’s products have it in their liners for increased freshness.”1  BHT remains quite controversial.  According to the David Suzuki Foundation, BHT can induce allergic reactions in the skin and there is some (while limited) evidence that high doses may mimic estrogen.2 It is unnecessary or is easily replaced by safe substitutes, avoid when possible.3

Polydextrose – is a compound synthesized from dextrose (glucose) and is used to provide bulk in foods, thereby reducing the caloric content.  Health Canada has concluded that Polydextrose is safe for human consumption but warns that excessive consumption could lead to gastro-intestinal discomfort and laxative effects.4 

Sucralose (Splenda) – An artificial sweetner that is made by taking cane sugar and selectively replacing 3 hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with 3 chlorine atoms.5  While the Center For Science In The Public Interest has deemed the consumption of sucralose safe, the product was approved by the United States in 1998 and therefore there are no long term studies available yet to disprove its safety for human consumption.

Among the other ingredients are also wheat, soy, corn and barley which are considered to be allergenic foods.  There is also a large amount of sugar per serving size and I do not agree with having large quantities of processed sugar let alone for breakfast.

I can’t get no satisfaction…

And quite frankly, I don’t want any.

Some healthy breakfast alternatives could be quinoa topped with blueberries, chia seeds, flaxseeds and non-dairy milk.  Oatmeal with almonds, raspberries and cinnamon is also good.  As is raw buckwheat breakfast, my favourite way to start the morning!

References

1. “Consumer Service, Nutrition & ingredient FAQs.” Kellogg’s. 2011. 3 Sep 2011. <http://www2.kelloggs.ca/ContactUs.aspx>

2. “BHA and BHT.” David Suzuki Foundation. Date unknown. 3 Sep 2011. <http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—bha-and-bhti/>

3.  “Chemical Cuisine: Learn About Food Additives.”  Center For Science In The Public Interest.  2011.  3 Sep 11.  <http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm>

4.  Canada. Health Canada. Sugar Alcohols (Polyols) & Polydextrose used as Sweetners in foods. 16 Feb 2005. 3 Sep 2011. <http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/sweeten-edulcor/polyols_polydextose_factsheet-polyols_polydextose_fiche-eng.php>

5. “Q & A.”  Splenda.  2009.  3 Sep 11.  <http://www.sucralose.com/About/QA/Pages/Default.aspx>

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