Yesterday I was approached by a beautiful young woman who offered me a sample of a new product that had just hit the market. It was a frozen fruit “soft serve” that was made using “100% real fruit” (her words, not mine). I have to admit that I was intrigued and given that the product had melted a little, it did look a lot like my version of “nice-cream” (frozen banana and strawberries whizzed in the Thermomix) however, I politely declined before continuing my search for an ATM.
Before too long I returned to find Andrew (my husband) with a sample pot of this “real fruit” soft serve in his hands. He told me that it was dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free and made with 100% real fruit and suggested I try it. As I perused the packaging for clues, I realised that I had seen the same product being promoted at our local health food store – I wondered if they could be really be telling the truth? I grabbed the spoon and had a small taste. Whilst I will admit that it was a tasty dessert, what I did notice was that it tasted nothing like “real fruit”. I quickly grabbed my phone and hit google in an attempt to investigate.
It’s basically a soft-serve ice-cream that comes in a variety of flavours. There is a bit of hype around the product, so I decided to summarise the marketing material below. The product is:
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Fat free (Red Flag)
- Made with 100% Aussie Fruit
- “Whipped with air and then frozen”.
- Has less than 75 calories (which is less than an average apple) (Another Red Flag)
- It is now being trialled in McDonalds and 7/11 Stores around the country.
Whilst this dessert is gluten free, dairy free, fat free and made with Aussie fruit (well, what’s left of it), there is a whole lot more we need to be aware of. The ingredients list reads as follows:
- Reconstituted Juice Pear and Apple Juice Concentrates (more about reconstituted juice here)
- Strawberry Puree
- Refined Fruit Juice Concentrates (juice is produced from a juicing machine, which then has as much water removed from it as possible, reducing it to a to a concentrate).
- Maltodextrin (Maltodextrin is a white powder often used in processed foods as a thickener or a filler as well as in pharmaceuticals as a binding agent).
- Vegetable Gums (412 – Guar Gum, 415 – Xanathan Gum, 407 – Carrageenan) NOTE: Carrageenan (407) is often used in yoghurts and ice-creams. It has been linked to cancer and is not recommended in large quantities for young children.
- Natural Colour (163 – Anthocyanins, use with caution)
- Natural Flavour (Not Disclosed)
- Aerating Agent (Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein – is produced by boiling foods such as soy, corn, or wheat in hydrochloric acid and then neutralising the solution with sodium hydroxide)
- Emulsifier (471 – Mono and diglycerides of fatty acids)
What I realised is that the marketing companies are getting “health savvy” and as a result, as the consumer, we need to be more vigilant. Instead of asking whether or not something ticks the GF, DF, Sugar Free boxes, we need to ask to see a list of ingredients.
The verdict? Companies are using selected “health buzz words” to convince you that their product is worth buying. As a result, it’s our job as consumers to start asking some serious questions.
- When something sounds too good to be true (i.e. something made with real fruit but has less calories than a single piece of fruit), it usually is.
- The list of ingredients never lies
- Real food doesn’t come with labels.
NOTE: This blog is designed to educate the consumer and equip them with the right tools to make their own informed choices. I have intentionally not mentioned the product name in this post in a bid to avoid any problems with product manufacturer, I hope you can respect this decision.