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June 11, 2018

Is This Stuff Really “Ice Cream?”

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

A new brand of “ice cream” called “Enlightened” has hit the market claiming only 60 – 100 calories per serving, with “more protein and less sugar.”

They picture 27 varieties of pints of ice cream in fancy flavors like this on their website:

Enlightened 4 pints

Each of the descriptions under those containers, and even the containers themselves call the product “ice cream.” And on individual product pages, the manufacturer repeatedly refers to the product simply as “ice cream.”

Red Velvet on web

Under federal law, a “standard of identity” defines when you can label a product as “ice cream”:

“Ice cream” is a frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, containing at least 10 percent milkfat. It also cannot be aerated (“overrun”) by more than 100%. And a gallon must weigh at least 4.5 pounds. [language simplified]

Their nutrition label on the red velvet “ice cream” flavor, for example, reveals a fat content of only 2 grams in a 70 gram (half cup) serving:

nutrition label

So clearly, there is not at least 10% milkfat in this product, and therefore legally it cannot be simply labeled “ice cream.”

You can’t tell looking at the pictures of the pint containers on the website, but a visit to a grocer’s freezer case reveals a secret on the package.

*MOUSE PRINT:

fine print

At the very bottom of the container in the tiniest print, which many people might miss, it says “low fat ice cream.” And that is completely different from plain old “ice cream.”

Federal law requires conspicuous disclosure of the legal name of the product, the statement of identity:

…be presented in bold type on the principal display panel, shall be in a size reasonably related to the most prominent printed matter on such panel, and shall be in lines generally parallel to the base on which the package rests as it is designed to be displayed. 21 CFR 101.3

And under separate FDA rules, products can be labeled as lower in fat if they meet these requirements:

  • “Reduced fat” ice cream contains at least 25 percent less total fat than the referenced product (either an average of leading brands, or the company’s own brand).

  • “Light” or “lite” ice cream contains at least 50 percent less total fat or 33 percent fewer calories than the referenced product (the average of leading regional or national brands).

  • “Lowfat” ice cream contains a maximum of 3 grams of total fat per serving (½ cup).

  • “Nonfat” ice cream contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per serving.

  • Because this flavor of Enlightened has less than three grams of fat per serving, it can and must be labeled as “low fat ice cream” and not merely “ice cream.”

    We asked Enlightened how the company could refer to these products merely as “ice cream” under the standard of identity and it referred us to the above chart.

    Is the fine print disclosure they make on the container sufficient disclosure to purchasers? Are repeated references merely to “ice cream” in marketing materials and on the package misleading? We filed a complaint with the FDA asking them to look at this case, and we’ll report their findings (if any).

    We’re not alone in raising questions about these newfangled “ice creams.” A class action lawsuit was filed last month against Halo Top, the most famous of these new lower calorie brands, making similar allegations as we have about Enlightened. (Hat tip to TruthinAdvertising.org for this lawsuit.)




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    April 16, 2018

    Here We Downsize Again (2018) – Part 1

    Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

    In the never ending saga of products shrinking in size as a means to pass on a sneaky price increase to consumers, we offer these three new ones thanks to our eagle-eyed readers.

    John R. spotted this gem in the dairy case. As he points out, orange juice makers laid the groundwork for being a commonly downsized item when most brands discontinued half gallon containers in favor of 59 ounce ones. And now at least one big brand is at it again.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    Simply Orange

    Simply Orange has just gone from 59 ounces down to 52 ounces. On its website, the company explains their decision:

    The decision to reduce our 59-ounce PET package was made after careful consideration of the current cost pressures within our supply chain as well as clear data on consumer’s price preferences. We are committed to bringing quality juices and drinks to the market and have decided to reduce our 59-ounce PET package in order to keep prices fair for our loyal customers. As part of our ongoing commitment to keep shoppers well informed, we are communicating the new 52-ounce PET package size on the Simply website and we are making the package weight more prominent on our front-of-pack labeling.




    The ever-shrinking toilet paper roll is getting smaller again, at least for purchasers of Quilted Northern. Our ace downsizing detective, Richard G., found the latest example.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    Quilted Northern

    The “mega” roll has gone from 330 sheets to 308 sheets.




    Lastly, TRESemme shampoo has downsized at least one of its varieties again.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    Tresemme

    TRESemme

    Most varieties of TRESemme were 32 ounces originally. Then they were downsized to 25 to 28 ounces depending on the type. Now a “new look” bottle signals yet another change — this time it is down to just 22 ounces for one variety.

    Thanks to Richard G. for finding this latest change. If you spot a product that has shrunk in size, try to send a sharp picture of both the old and new package to Mouse Print*.




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    March 26, 2018

    Tropicana Kids: No Nutrition Sacrifice?

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

    Tropicana is known for its pure juices, many not made from concentrate. Now they are coming out with a new product line called Tropicana Kids, which was just announced via a press release.

    Tropicana Kids

    Looking at the front of the product label reveals that it is organic, which certainly implies to many that this is a healthy choice. And their senior vice president touts the product, saying:

    “We’re thrilled to launch Tropicana Kids, offering an organic, premium fruit juice drink for busy parents who don’t want to sacrifice their kids’ nutrition, …”

    Indeed, the words “real juice” appear on the front of the label, but it is hard to read the smaller type above it.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    It says “Sweetened with real juice.”

    Huh? That is an odd expression for what one might assume is a juice product to start with.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    Tropicana Kids

    There’s the answer! The first ingredient in this juice drink is water! And their press release announcing the product offers what might be a surprising explanation to many :

    Tropicana Kids is an all-new line of certified USDA Organic premium fruit juice drinks offering delicious taste for kids with nutrition parents expect. Available in three flavors—Fruit Punch, Mixed Berry and Watermelon—Tropicana Kids is made with 45% real fruit juice and mixed with filtered water, with no added sweeteners, no artificial flavors and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Plus, the packaging features a clear panel so moms and dads can see the goodness inside, and feel good about serving Tropicana Kids to their children. [Emphasis added]

    While it is a big plus that there is no added sugar or corn syrup, we’re not so sure that grossly diluted juice is a better nutritional choice for parents to make for their kids than 100% juice.

    And certainly, the real nature of this product is not obvious from looking at the front of the package, peekaboo window or not, because parents can’t readily “see the goodness inside” just by visual inspection.




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    March 19, 2018

    Weight Watchers: Get Paid $100 to Lose Weight?

    Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

    Did you see the Weight Watchers commercial last month that promised to pay people $100 to lose weight? Really? What’s the catch?

    Weight Watchers make $100

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    The $100 offer stays on the screen for exactly two seconds at the end of the commercial. In that time, never mind trying to read the mouse print, you can’t even read the large print, which says to qualify you have to lose 10 pounds in three months and that a purchase is necessary.

    The reasonable consumer might therefore believe you have to buy a membership for at least three months, and then you qualify for the money back. Not so. You actually have to remain a member and pay membership fees for six months — twice was long as what some might have expected.

    So how much do you have to pay to get back $100? The company has several membership plans, and the pricing varies by region. In Boston, the online only membership plan works out to $3.07 a week (or $79.82 for six months); the in-person meetings plan is $6.92 a week ($179.92 total), and the “coaching” plan is $12.69 ($329.94 total). [Note: These plans incorporate a discount because they are being purchased on a multi-month plan.]

    So if you pick the online only plan, they literally will be paying you to lose weight because you will come out ahead by $20. For the other plans, the $100 rebate is a significant reduction from the regular price.

    Other than potentially leading consumers to believe they could quit after three months, Weight Watchers seems to be doing exactly what they promise. How novel!

    But not so fast. We asked their PR folks to confirm that a member choosing the $79 plan will in fact get back $100. We got no reply. Twice.




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    March 5, 2018

    A Different Kind of Downsizing

    Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:11 am

    Christian M. wrote to us recently about a different kind of downsizing. It seems he purchased a canister of Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and noticed that it had been downsized.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    Lysol wipes

    Both canisters have 80 sheets, but the net weight dropped two full ounces from 19.7 oz. to 17.7 oz.

    Did they make each sheet smaller? A consumer can’t tell because unlike a package of paper towels, the dimensions of each sheet aren’t disclosed on the label. Or, did they put less Lysol disinfectant in the package? Who can tell?

    Our consumer took pictures of the old and new wipes.

    lysol wipes side by side

    The old sheet, on top, is made of solid material, while the new sheet, which is slightly larger, appears to have a waffle weave, with pockets that are almost see-through.

    We wrote to the PR folks at RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser) asking what was reduced — the amount of disinfectant, the weight of the wipes when dry, or both. Their spokesperson replied in part:

    …the total weight of our Lysol Disinfecting Wipes product has been reduced due to recent innovation with the wipes themselves, while still providing the same cleaning power and unbeatable disinfection, killing 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.

    In 2017, Lysol launched a new non-woven substrate, scientifically redesigned in cooperation with consumers, highlighting a ‘peaks and valleys’ pattern. The ratio of liquid and non-woven have been optimized to guarantee sufficient wetness for a precise cleaning and disinfection, while providing the benefit of “trapping and lifting messes”.

    So, maybe it was a combination of less liquid and thinner sheets, but who knows.

    As an aside, it does seem odd that this product category has net weight statements seemingly based on solid weight (wipes plus liquid combined). RB says the way they declare the contents is consistent with federal rules which do not require sheet size for this type of product.




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