The front of the packaging describes them as “yogurty covered fruit flavored bits.”
Did you catch those two red flag terms?
First there’s “yogurty covered”. Not quite the same as “yogurt covered” (we’ll get to that in a minute).
Then there’s my personal favorite: “fruit flavored “. That’s basically marketing speak for “sugar that tastes like [insert name of fruit here]“.
Let’s have a look at the not-surprisingly-lengthy ingredient list:
Sugar, coating ( sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel and palm oil, calcium carbonate, nonfat yogurt powder [cultured whey protein concentrate, cultured skim milk, yogurt cultures [heat-treated after culturing], nonfat milk, reduced mineral whey, color added, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, salt), corn syrup, modified corn starch, apple puree concentrate, contains two percent or less of: water, pectin, citric acid, cornstarch, malic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), natural and artificial cherry flavor, sodium citrate, color added: carnauba wax, carmine color, Yellow #5 Lake, Red #40, Red #40, Blue #1 Lake
Wow. Time for some analysis:
1. The first ingredient (meaning, the most prominent one) in this product is sugar.
2. The “yogurty coating” contains more sugar and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) than actual yogurt!
3. Even worse, the yogurt cultures have been heat-treated after culturing, rendering their probiotic qualities ineffective. Remember, you always want to look for live and active cultures!
4. Carmine color is made by crushing the shells of cochineal beetles. While there is nothing inherently unhealthy about this, I always like to inform vegetarians and vegans about that factoid.
5. There isn’t a shred of fruit in this product. Simply fruit sugars and fruit flavors.
6. Each pouch of these “bits” weighs 20 grams. Thirteen of those grams (that’s 65% of the product) come from sugar.
This product can legally advertise itself as a good source of calcium because it delivers ten percent of the mineral’s daily adequate intake value. Note, though, that some of it is fortified (sprinkled on during processing) in the yogurt coating!
For what it’s worth, that same amount of calcium can be intrinsically found in these healthier and less processed foods:
A third of a cup of milk (dairy or fortified non-dairy varieties)
Half an ounce of Swiss cheese
Three quarters of a mozzarella stick
A quarter cup of tofu
A third of a cup of coked collard greens
A third of a cup of almonds
I would be a lot less displeased if these were described more realistically. Perhaps something along the lines of “sugar & yogurt covered sugar puffs”?