News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by

FDA censures Kind: a look at sugar and fat use in the “health” food industry


Listen to story

Extra Audio:
Download this story 11MB

The FDA is cracking down on Kind bars. The popular snack rocketed to fame in recent years, moving over 400-million units. But now the government says that Kind has been stretching the truth about the nutritional value of some of their most popular products. They’re demanding that Kind either change their packaging or change the recipe.

In a letter released this week, the government tells the granola bar maker that many of their bars contain too much fat to be labeled “healthy.” Additionally, the FDA takes issue with the use of the words “plus protein,” arguing that bars do not contain enough protein to qualify as a protein bar.

Kind is a go-to food for many snackers concerned with “natural” ingredients, however, syndicated food columnist Ari LeVaux says the marketing may be a little disingenuous. Still, “[c]onsumers relying on buzzwords like ‘healthy’ is a poor substitute for keeping up on the latest science and reading the labels themselves and making their own decisions.” He also points out that the FDA recently revamped their maximum fat standards, meaning that the concerns raised in their letter to Kind may be moot.

The FDA’s warning to Kind highlights a challenge faced by all would-be healthy eaters: how do you know what you’re really eating?

Excessive amounts of sugar can be hazards to our health, but even health food producers use it to make their products more satiating. Dr. Robert Lustig is a professor of pediatrics and endocrinology at UC San Francisco. He tells Take Two that the average American diet contains too much sugar--especially the diet of young people. “Look, I’m for dessert,” he begins hotly, “The problem is we’re having dessert for breakfast, dessert for lunch, dessert for dinner and dessert for every snack. If you’re in the national school breakfast program and your standard breakfast is a bowl of Froot Loops and a glass of orange juice, then you’re getting 11 teaspoons of added sugar and it’s only breakfast, and you haven’t had dessert yet.”

Dr. Lustig calculates that the average child consumes about 41 teaspoons of sugar a day. A serving that he passionately contends, “is just not O.K.”

Press the play buttons above to hear more from food columnist Ari LeVaux and Dr. Robert Lustig.