Just One Look At The Ingredients In Fruit Roll-Ups Will Convince You To Make Your Own
Fruit Roll-ups are a popular snack made famous by General Mills and distributed by the Betty Crocker brand. They've been heavily marketed to children since the 1980s using tag lines such as "real fruit and fun." Unfortunately, the manufacturer's play on words are very deceptive to the consumer and there's nothing "real" inside the snack.
General Mills lost its motion to dismiss a lawsuit with claims the company deceived consumers about the fruit content in Fruit Roll-Ups. A closer look at the ingredients lends support to claims by critics that the snack is nothing but processed sugar. Here's an easy way to make your own.
General Mills is not the only company in hot water over "false and deceptive nutrient content claims." I previously reported on the harmful ingredients in Nutella after Ferrero settled a class action lawsuit over its advertising of Nutella for $3m, and agreed to change the product's labeling and advertising.
Since 2011, consumer advocacy groups and plaintiffs have filed more than 150 food labeling class action lawsuits against food and beverage companies.
Food manufacturers are now spending hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in legal fees and settlement amounts to resolve cases that are entirely avoidable.
Recognizing that consumers have the right to expect that the information on food labels is accurate and not misleading, the FDA has assured consumers, in a message on its website, that it "has your back," however, from my experience that is not the case.
FDA Is No Longer Credible
I have worked as a consultant in public health policy and procurement in several countries globally and can state without hesitation that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the worst public health and regulatory agency in the world. Not only do they ignore legitimate requests based on scientific merit to ban dangerous chemicals, but they make considerable efforts to promote them to the food industry.
Marco Torres highlighted 20 ingredients which continue to pop-up in many processed foods, all claimed to be safe by the FDA when in fact they are potentially very hazardous to the public's health.
The FDA has lost all credibility to properly protect the public. Under FDA regulations, manufacturers may label a product as "naturally fruit flavored," even if that product contains no fruit at all.
If we take a closer look at the ingredients in Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot and other "claimed" fruit-based snacks by General Mills, we can safely state that the processing is primarily a chemical base:
Pears from Concentrate, Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Citric Acid, Acetylated Monoglycerides, Fruit Pectin, Dextrose, Malic Acid, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Natural Flavor, Artificial Colors
Both corn syrup and dried corn syrup are not natural at all. Corn syrup is a GMO-based chemically processed liquid sugar.
Materials used during the process of converting corn to corn syrup include sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid. Corn starch is converted into ordinary corn syrup by mixing the starch with hydrochloric acid and heating it under pressure.
All corn syrup contains some processed free glutamic acid (MSG). In producing corn syrup, producers do not take the time nor undertake the expense to remove all proteins. "There is no corn syrup without free glutamic acid present, it doesn't exist," said food scientist Mae Geraldine. "It is a byproduct of processing and the expense to remove it would exceed production costs."
Cottonseed oil is also GMO based. To increase shelf life and obtain the cooking properties of solid shortenings, oils are partially hydrogenated. That eliminates most of the unstable fatty acids and creates what can only be classified as a "chemical" not a food. At the expense of health partially hydrogenated oils have been used to replace natural and more ingredients such as butter, coconut oil, and other "hard" fats.
Consumer Annie Lam filed the complaint against General Mills in a Californian district court and sought class action lawsuit, alleging that the products' packaging misleads consumers into believing that the fruit-flavored snacks are healthful.
In particular, the packaging states on one type of strawberry-flavored Fruit Roll-Ups that they're "made with real fruit", which Lam alleged "incorrectly describes the ingredients, which include partially hydrogenated oil, sugars in quantities amounting to approximately half of each serving, and 'pears from concentrate' rather than the fruit indicated by the name of the product."
According to court documents, General Mills argues that the statement "made with real fruit" is objectively true and that a reasonable consumer would not interpret it to mean that there are particular fruits or quantities of fruit in a product.
However, the court agreed with Lam that a reasonable consumer might indeed make this kind of assumption, based on this statement and others on-pack.
"Taken together, these statements might lead a reasonable consumer to believe that product is made with real strawberries, not pears from concentrate," the court document reads.
Make Your Own Fruit Roll-Ups
There is no need to purchase chemical-based fruit snacks when you can make your own easily and naturally.
Ingredients 1 1/4 pounds chopped fruit (suggestions below)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 150 or 175 degrees F. Add the fruit and lemon juice in a blender and puree until smooth.
Transfer the puree to a lined baking sheet. A silpat works best but you can also use parchment paper as well.
Using an offset spatula and spread the puree
evenly to about 1/8" thick.
Some ovens can get the consistency needed better than others but a minimum of 3 hours is required to dehydrate.
If the roll-ups are still moist on the underside, return them to the oven, moist-side up, until dry, about 20-30 more minutes.
Lay the fruit on a sheet of wax paper and use kitchen shears to cut it into strips on the paper. Roll up the strips and store in zip-lock bags for up to 1 week.
Some preparations may last longer in the refrigerator although they will harden.
Try the following fruits which will give excellent results:
Plum: 5 medium, unpeeled, chopped
Peach or nectarine: 5 medium, unpeeled, chopped
Apple: 3 large (Gala or Granny Smith), peeled and chopped
Strawberry: 4 cups, hulled and chopped
Raspberry: 5 cups
Grape: 3 1/2 cups (preferably Concord), seeded if necessary
Banana: 5 medium, peeled
Mango: 2 large, peeled and chopped
Raspberry-Vanilla: 5 cups raspberries plus the seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Strawberry-Banana: 3 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped, plus 2 medium bananas, peeled
Apple-Ginger: 3 large apples, peeled and chopped, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
Spicy Mango: 2 large mangoes, peeled and chopped, plus 1/8 teaspoon each salt and cayenne pepper
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.