Label Trickery: Finding a Healthy Apple Sauce

Posted in Kid's Foods

Remember the good old days? Those simpler times when TV moms like Carol Brady didn’t break a sweat while whipping up pork chops and apple sauce for her pack of six almost-perfect kids.

OK, so Bobby, Peter and Greg may have sported striped pants and Afros, but life was less complicated. You – or your maid Alice – could walk into the corner store and EASILY find a healthy apple sauce because there were far fewer food varieties to choose from.

While we’re happy saying goodbye to feathered hair and leisure suits, we now struggle with selecting the truly healthy varieties from trusted brands that have been around, well, longer than a man named Brady!

Case in point: Mott’s Apple Sauce (single servings)

When we asked our food sleuths to go BestBrands shopping for apple sauce in single serving cups, little did they know they’d have an extended stay in the snack cup aisle deciphering labels for a single brand! Here’s what they uncovered:

  • Mott’s single serving cups of apple sauce come in four varieties with over 22 flavors to choose from.
  • The majority of the choices are Healthy Food Imposters; they contain added sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup and, in some cases, artificial coloring.
  • The front-of-box labels are very similar across varieties and flavors – with only a few key words distinguishing the Imposters from the BestBrands.

(Note: This is a classic label trick used by many manufacturers to get shoppers to buy their less than healthy versions filled with cheaper junk ingredients.)
* The price was the same across all varieties – with and without the junk ingredients.


Decoding the Fine Print

Seeing is believing. Sample these examples that help illustrate the point that “not all varieties within a brand are created equal”… not even close.

Mott’s Classic Variety – Original vs. Natural

Motts_Classic_Original

Original

(4oz serving , 90 cals, 20g of sugar)

Ingredients: Apples, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Ascorbic Acid (To Maintain Color).

Motts_classic_Natural

Natural (unsweetened)

(4oz serving, 50 cals, 11g of sugar)

Ingredients: Apples, Water, Ascorbic Acid (To Maintain Color).

Reality Check

The front labels on both versions within the same variety are almost identical. But the “original” variety is clearly a Healthy Food Imposter with the added high fructose corn syrup and almost double the calories. The Natural (unsweetened) version is a BestBrands contender with no added junk ingredients.

Mott’s Fruit-flavored vs. Mott’s Healthy Harvest

healthy_harvest_summer_straw

Fruit-flavored – Strawberry

(4 oz serving, 90 cals, 20g of sugar)

Ingredients: Apples, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Strawberry Puree, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid (to Maintain Color), Red 40.

Motts_flavored_fruit

Healthy Harvest – Summer Strawberry

(4 oz serving 50 cals, 11g sugar)

Ingredients: Apples, Water, Strawberry Puree Concentrate, Fruit And Vegetable Juices For Color, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Natural Flavor

Reality Check

Both varieties are flavored with other fruit. Even though the labels are different, they’re not THAT different – a time-pressed shopper could easily grab the Imposter!

The Healthy Harvest varieties get our BestBrands Stamp of Approval! They’re sweetened with real fruit concentrate, rather than added sugar. And they contain no artificial colorings. Its counterpart, Mott’s Fruit-flavored, is a Healthy Food Imposter due the cheap chemical fillers used to make this variety look and taste fruitier. Plus, it has double the calories and sugar!

This begs the question: Does it really have to be this hard to find a healthy apple sauce?

Not anymore, thanks to our handy BrandAid Apple Sauce Guidelines. Now you, our honorary food sleuth, can zip through the snack cup aisle, happily humming tunes from your favorite sitcoms of yesteryear. Take it from the top… Here’s the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls…


BrandAid Apple Sauce Guidelines

  • Look for words like “unsweetened,” “no added sugar,” and “all natural” on the front label. When in doubt, read the ingredients labels!
  • Look for a short ingredients list – apples should be the first ingredient!
  • Avoid junk ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colorings

BestBrands

These varieties and brands have met the Brand Doctor’s standards for ingredients and taste. Plus, they pack a nutritional punch without all the harmful junk ingredients.

Note: Remember, all varieties of the same brand are not created equal! Please make sure you are choosing the recommended variety within each brand!

Mott’s Classic Variety – Natural (single serving cups and family size)
Mott’s Healthy Harvest – (single serving cups) All Flavors
Mott’s Organics Unsweetened Apple Sauce (single serving cups and family size)
WhiteHouse Natural Plus Apple Sauce (single serving cups and family size)
Musselman’s Apple Sauce Natural Unsweetened (single serving cups and family size)

Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.

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In Our Opinion: The information contained in the eBrandAid e-newsletters is strictly based on the opinions of the eBrand Doctors. We have created a set of guidelines that we believe will help shoppers to better understand and decode food labels on products found in most grocery stores. Our mission is to help shoppers find the healthier brands that have the least amount of chemicals and other junk ingredients.

One Response to “Label Trickery: Finding a Healthy Apple Sauce”

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