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March 24, 2014

Muscling In On Your Wallet

Filed under: Health,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am


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January 20, 2014

Tropicana Farmstand Fruit/Veggie Juice Surprises

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

  Tropicana has a new juice on the market called Farmstand. It is a “100% fruit and vegetable juice” which the company says provides one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables in every eight-ounce glass.

It comes in such luscious-sounding flavors as Peach Mango, Strawberry Banana, and Pomegranate Blueberry.

Tropicana Farmstand

When looking at the ingredients statement, it may come as a surprise that there is not a lot of strawberry or banana in the product above.


Tropicana Farmstand

Besides water, the primary ingredient is sweet potato juice. Sweet potato juice? Yep. And it has more grape, apple and carrot juice than either strawberry or banana.

Tropicana’s other two Farmstand varieties also are composed primarily of water and sweet potato juice, with the product’s named fruits way down the list of ingredients.

For all MrConsumer knows, these juices are wonderfully tasty compared to the V8s of the world. But funny how the primary ingredient — sweet potato — is almost hidden and not clearly identifiable on both the product label and in their display advertising.

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January 13, 2014

Burger King’s Satisfries’ Fat and Calorie Reduction Claims Unsatisfrying

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:00 am

  With great fanfare, Burger King recently introduced “Satisfries” — a new crinkle-cut french fry that it claims is much lower in fat and calories:


And they are also running commercials making the same claims:

If you look a little closer, you will see there is one tiny asterisk after the 40% less fat claim, and two asterisks after the 30% less [sic] calories claim. The fine print in the commercial is virtually unreadable.


BK disclaimer

They are not actually comparing the new Satisfries to their own regular fries as most people would believe, but rather to McDonald’s regular fries.


Burger King
BK fries nutrition

Mcd's Fries

While Burger King’s claims are roughly mathematically correct when you compare equal size portions of their Satisfries to McDonald’s regular fries, BK’s claims exaggerate the calorie and fat reductions when you compare the actual sizes of products you can buy in each restaurant.

Comparing the actual smallest portion you can buy of BK’s Satisfries, which weighs 87 grams, with McDonald’s small size fries which weighs only 71 grams, the BK Satisfries has 27% less fat (not 40% less) and 17% fewer calories (not 30%).

But how do Satisfries compare to BK’s own regular fries, since most people hearing the claim will believe that is the comparison being made?

When you compare the smallest size of BK’s Satisfries (87 grams) with their own virtually equal-sized regular fries (89 grams), Satisfies are only 20% less fatty (not the 40% seemingly claimed), and have 21% fewer calories, not 30%.

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December 23, 2013

McCormick Black Pepper — An Important Source of Antioxidants?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will be published on Monday, January 6, 2014 (our trusty mouse needs time off to hunt for his annual supply of dairy-free cheese substitute since unfortunately he is lactose intolerant).

McCormick ran a series of commercials touting the health benefits of its spices. (We reported on their health claims for cinnamon a while back here.)

One commercial proclaims, using words to the effect that “sprinkling black pepper on scambled eggs is an important source of antioxidants”.

Looking on their website, the claim is even made more specific:

Wow, more antioxidants than a 1/2 cup serving of watermelon. Not so fast.

According to the FDA, watermelon is not one of those fruits particularly dense with vitamin C (a key antioxidant).


A serving size is defined as two cups, and contains 25% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. If you wanted to get the equivalent boost of vitamin C from black pepper, you would have to sprinkle about a full teaspoon of pepper on your eggs. Ha choooooo. The recommended 1/4 teaspoon that McCormick suggests that you sprinkle on eggs will only provide you with 6.25% of your daily requirement of vitamin C according to them. Hardly something to boast about as a boost of antioxidants. As noted in the comments (thanks, Leeann), there are other antioxidants in watermelon too, but they are in very small amounts.

*MOUSE PRINT: suggests that even a full teaspoon of black pepper is not particularly nutrient-rich (but not all nutrients are listed on nutrition facts labels).

black pepper

In an interview with Ad Age, the company explained their advertising campaign:

The goal is to reach “people who maybe weren’t superinvolved cooks … but were still interested in healthy eating,” said Jill Pratt, VP-marketing for consumer products. The company looked at some common meals “and found a way to make them a little bit healthier by amping up the antioxidants in them,” she said.

No matter how you spin it, black pepper is NOT an important source of antioxidants in your diet based on the amount of pepper you might actually use to spice up an individual serving.

• • •

October 28, 2013

What’s the Beef?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:48 am

It is, or should be common knowledge that some supermarket chains “zone price.” That means the price of items can vary from one neighborhood to another, usually depending on the level of local competition.

Stop & Shop, a large regional chain in the Northeast, uses zone pricing so it was no surprise that one of its big featured items recently was advertised at different prices in different stores.

What seemed like a very good price reduction, 40% off on porterhouse steaks (usually $11.99/lb, now $7.19) was actually lower two towns over where it was advertised for only $4.99 a pound.

SS Choice SS Select

MrConsumer raced to the meat counter to look at the $4.99 steaks but was immediately disappointed because the steaks were not well-marbled — a sign they would not be a very flavorful or tender steak.


The reason these steaks were cheaper also became apparent — they had a “Select” sticker on the package.

Most beef sold at retail is graded by the USDA. The highest grade is “Prime” followed by “Choice” and then “Select.” While “Select” steaks may be healthier because they are less fatty, they are likely not as tasty, tender, and juicy as a “Choice” or “Prime” steak.

If you look back at the advertisements above, you will see the USDA Choice shield on the steak on the left, but it is missing from the steak on the right. The steak on the right says “Select Fresh Bone-in New York Strip Steak, …” The average person would probably have skipped over the word “Select” because it appears to be used fancifully (like “hand-picked”) rather than indicating that the advertised steak is USDA Select grade.

While one might reasonably expect the advertised price to vary from one location of a chain to another, one would not expect the grade or quality of the same advertised product to be different as well.

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