Nutrition Imposter: Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal

We all know that processed foods, including cereals, can contain lots of preservatives and additives, including artificial flavours, but this may be the first time I’ve seen a cereal so blatantly try to pull the wool over the shoppers’ eyes.

This week I came across this video, “outting” Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal as a nutrition imposter, of the worst kind. If I asked you to guess a few of the ingredients in Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal, what would you say? I’m going to bet that most of you would guess the ingredients would include a grain (maybe whole grains), sugar, blueberries, and pomegranates.  That’s a pretty safe guess right? But you would be wrong. Sure, Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal contains whole grains and sugar, but here’s the kicker, it does not contain ANY blueberries OR pomegranates. So what does it contain? Here’s the ingredient list (I’ve separated the vitamins and minerals, and highlighted the sugars and dyes, to make it easier to read):

Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Barley Malt Extract, Brown Sugar Syrup, Wheat Flakes, Malt Syrup, Rice Flour, Salt, Oat Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Canola Oil, Natural and Artificial Flour, Red 40, Blue 2 and Other Color Added, Soybean and Corn Oil, Sucralose, Molasses, Honey, Corn Starch, Nonfat Milk, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) and Bht Added to Preserve Freshness.
Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin E Acetate, A B Vitamin (Niacinamide), A B Vitamin (Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin A (Palmitate), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.

So what’s the deal? 

My guess – General Mills‘ marketing team wanted to cash in on the “super food” trend going on. Why they couldn’t just add real berries (even dried versions) is beyond me. I guess they figured it was just as good to add red and blue dyes, and the vitamins and minerals that are found in these fruits. Unfortunately, nutrition and foods don’t work like that. Research has shown that the whole food is greater than the sum of its parts – meaning you can’t simply put all the ingredients together and expect them to have the same benefits in the body as the whole food. Besides, I know blueberries don’t come with ingredient labels, but if they did, I’m pretty sure “Blue 2″ wouldn’t be listed.

Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure: