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'Blueberry' label on food products may be misleading

November 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Blueberries are often touted as a "superfood." So with good reason, many health-conscious people try to eat as many as possible.

Dr. Orly Avitzur, Consumer Reports medical adviser, says there is science to back up the health claims.

"Studies suggest that eating berries, including blueberries, is associated with a reduction in blood pressure," said Avitzur. "Not only that, but it may help stop the growth of cancer cells and stave off memory loss."

But if you think you're getting those benefits in packaged foods, think again. Consumer Reports recently conducted an investigation of blueberry-labeled products.

"We found products that look like they're loaded with blueberries that are anything but," said Jamie Kopf, senior associate health editor at Consumer Reports.

For instance, a blueberry pancake mix from Krusteaz contains no blueberries or fruit of any kind in its long list of ingredients.

"Keep an eye out for disclaimers like 'artificially flavored' and 'imitation blueberries,' which in this case are made of palm oil, cellulose gum, and several dyes," said Kopf. "It's very important to check the list of ingredients."

Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Blueberry Muffin cereal is blue on the outside, but the only blue thing in the cereal is a dye: Blue #2 Lake. A Kellogg's company spokesperson said, "The term 'Blueberry Muffin' is used to describe the flavor ... and the product is labeled in compliance with ... laws and regulations."

"We found some products that prominently display blueberries have only blueberry juice in them, and that comes way down on the list of ingredients, behind sugar and corn syrup," said Kopf.

Ocean Spray Blueberry Craisins are not dried blueberries at all, but cranberries "infused" with blueberry juice.

As with most fruits and vegetables, Consumer Reports says it's best to eat blueberries before they, or their juice, end up in packaged products.


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