Thursday, March 27, 2014

Health Canada Allows Cupcakes to Claim They're a Source of Calcium and Iron

Just in case you need more convincing that Canada's front-of-package labelling law's laxity leads to nonsensical front-of-package health claims look no further than Duncan Hines' new Strawberry Flavoured Cupcakes whose package reports they're a source of calcium and a source of iron.

And honestly, even if there were calcium and iron emergencies in the population (there aren't), and even if these cupcakes provided a significant amount of either (they don't - 6% of both per cupcake), nothing will change the fact that they're cupcakes and that cupcakes, while delicious, will never be healthful.

So what's in these calcium and iron containing cupcakes? Here's the ingredient list:
Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil Shortening [Palm Oil], Strawberry-Flavoured Bits [Sugar, Corn Syrup, Corn Cereal, Partially-Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed And/Or Soybean), Modified Cornstarch, Citric Acid, Natural And Artificial Flavours, Colour], Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Wheat Starch, Propylene Esters, Mono And Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl-Lactylate, Salt, Dextrose, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Natural And Artificial Flavour, Artificial Flavour, Colour. Frosting Mix: Powdered Sugar [Sugar, Cornstarch], Cream Cheese Powder [Cream Cheese (Cream, Milk, Skim Milk, Whey, Bacterial Culture, Salt, Microbial Enzyme), Whey, Natural Flavour, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate], Natural And Artificial Flavour).
The onus shouldn't be on Canadians to have to study the backs of packages' nutrition facts panels to determine if the claims made on the fronts of those same packages hold true, and while you might think to yourself that no-one's going to get duped by a cupcake box, not only would I bet that you're wrong and that those claims may well influence some to consider them to be less unhealthy than they are, I would remind you that there are many other products that are equally but far less obviously awful whose packages dupe the best of us on a daily basis.

[h/t to Random House's Cassandra Sadek]