Saturday, February 10, 2007

Another angry mom

I had a proud mama moment today. My older son S told me that while his stepdad Coach Stu and little brother Z were sleeping and I was at the birth center, he bought an ice cream from the friendly neighborhood kiddie crack dealer ice cream truck. He did not eat it, but put it in the freezer to have after dinner. (That's the proud part.) He bought a repeat of the same crap he bought last time. Rich's Ice Cream, Big Banana.

The first time he brought one of these home, I confiscated it immediately, and told him it was for after dinner. As I walked the contraband to the freezer, I flipped over the label casually, thinking, "There is no way this thing has more fruit than sugar in it."

I scanned the label again and again. All the regular offenders were there: sugar, corn syrup (like they need both) artificial flavors and two artificial colors (Yellow #5 and #6. I guess they don't make a Yellow #5 1/2.) But one thing was missing: the fruit. Could this actually contain none of its namesake banana?

I checked the entire label. It didn't say "Banana flavored" or "Contains 0% real banana" or any other such disclaimers anywhere.

I know my son S. He is desperately eager to please. He has known how to earn mega mom points since the first time he asked "Is this healfee?" and I beamed. I like to imagine that he stood in front of the friendly neighborhood kiddie crack dealer ice cream truck and thought, "Banana. Fruit. OK, mom hates the ice cream truck, but she loves fruit! Maybe she won't be AS annoyed."

So, after a quick look over food labeling laws, I realized that there is absolutely no requirement that a food marketed to children actually has to contain to have a healthy ingredient on its label (or in its frickin name!) As long the kiddie crack kingpins junk food manufacturers didn't try to slap a health claim on the label such as "Healthy!" or "Fights cardiovascular disease!" then apparently they can call the crap anything they want.

When someone wrote in wondering if they could follow in the same vein as Rich's Big Banana and Grape-Nuts and come up with a food product with a wildly bogus name, The Straight Dope claims the FTC "would promptly slap you with a cease-and-desist order for promulgating advertising with a "tendency to deceive." (Although you never know. The way things have been going lately, they might give you an award and appoint you commissioner.)"

I would agree more with the commissioner part.

I need to follow in the footsteps of these Two Angry Moms and channel my anger about junk food aimed at kids. They are making a movie about how annoyed they are at the poor selection in school cafeterias.

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