whole grain, Sara Lee
M. Spencer Green/AP

Sara Lee Makes Amends for False Nutritional Claims

July 25, 2008 08:00 AM
by Isabel Cowles
Food manufacturer Sara Lee will change the “whole grain” specifications on bread packaging, making it clear that the loaf contains only 30 percent whole grains.

30-Second Summary

Food manufacturer Sara Lee will modify the label of its “Soft and Smooth” bread in a settlement with the Center for Science (CSPI) in the Public Interest.

The CSPI threatened to sue Sara Lee for false health claims last December, noting that phrasing like, “‘made with whole grain’, ‘good source of whole grain’ and ‘now with 25% more whole grain’ are “intended to deceive the consumer into thinking the bread is a whole-grain bread, when in fact it is not.”

A Sara Lee spokeswoman responded: “We adamantly deny allegations made by CSPI. We are proud of the 10g of whole grains per serving this transitional bread offers our consumers.”

Once grains are refined, much of their nutritional value is lost. Companies often make foods with enriched or refined flour because the shelf life is longer and the consistency is fluffier.

In 2001, rising levels of obesity in America caused some dieticians to tout the value of whole grains in health and weight loss. In response, food manufacturers like General Mills and Sara Lee added “whole grain” claims to their packaging.

Kelly Brownell
, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, stated, “The food industry is notorious for making nutrition claims even when reality is far removed from the appearance, and whole grains is a classic example. Sara Lee, General Mills (GIS), and others will make small changes in the food and make them appear to be big.”

Headline Link: Sara Lee to clarify whole grain claims

Background: Whole grain claims not the whole truth

Reference: Defining 'whole grain' and its benefits

Related Topic: Other misleading “health food” claims


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