Lunchables have high levels of lead and sodium, Consumer Reports finds

Consumer Reports is calling for the removal of Lunchables from school shelves across the country after finding worrying levels of lead and sodium as well as a potentially harmful chemical in their packaging in products sold in stores.

A petition pressuring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove Kraft Heinz products from the nation’s school lunch program has more than 14,000 signatures.

Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, said the nonprofit watchdog found concerning lead levels when it tested store-bought Lunchables. High lead levels have been associated with developmental problems in children for decades.

Concerns about weak government oversight Heavy metals in children’s foods are increasing after more than 500 cases of lead poisoning were linked to applesauce packet products. Ronholm also noted that high sodium levels such as those found in Lunchables can potentially increase the risk of developing high blood pressure in children. Consumer Reports found phthalates — chemicals used in plastics — in the packaging of some of the Kraft Heinz store-bought items they tested. Phthalates are linked to health problems related to hormonal disruption.

“It’s disconcerting to see something unhealthy being included in the lunch program,” Ronholm said. “You are really putting children at risk and putting them at a disadvantage. »

Kraft Heinz spokeswoman Lynsey Elve said Lunchables have been “parent-approved” for 35 years, and more than half of American parents “proudly purchase the brand.”

“All of our foods meet strict safety standards and we are happy to give them to our own families,” Elve said. “Lead and cadmium occur naturally in the environment and can be present in low quantities in food products. We take pride in Lunchables and stand behind the quality and integrity that goes into making them.

Consumer Reports’ findings follow a Washington Post investigation last year that showed how powerful food companies obtain ultra-processed foods such as Lunchables to qualify for the national school lunch program through years of Extensive lobbying to lower government nutritional standards.

Big food companies have argued that pizza sauce and fries should be considered vegetables – which they now are – and have pushed back against almost any regulation of food advertising to children.

“Lunchables is an example of a ‘big’ company seeking to capitalize on the 30 million school meals served every day, by marketing its unhealthy products to our nation’s children who deserve healthy, nutritious food in schools,” said Ann Cooper, a chef who is a renowned evangelist for cooking whole foods for school children.

“It is a travesty that what we feed our children does not meet higher standards. They are our future and deserve better,” Cooper said.

Two versions of Lunchables tailor-made for schools were added to the national school lunch program last year, despite protests from many nutrition experts. As The Post discovered, Kraft Heinz added more protein and whole grains to reformulated Turkey Breakfasts and Stacker Cheddar Crackers — but also increased the sodium. Kraft Heinz previously declined to disclose how many school systems carry its products.

The Post found that in Chile, the school version of the Turkey and Cheddar Lunchable would be eligible for labels warning of high levels of sodium, calories and saturated fat, mirroring how other countries have adopted standards stricter labeling, advertising and nutrition policies in response to the global obesity crisis. Elve previously called the application of Chilean labeling standards to Lunchables “reaching.”

“Lunchables are ultra-processed junk food for kids,” said Marion Nestle, a retired professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “Why anyone would think these foods are appropriate for school lunches is beyond me. Yes, they are cheap and yes, kids love them. But schools need to do better than that.

Elve said that “processed foods arbitrarily classified as ‘ultra-processed’ are not necessarily less nutritious.”

Ronholm said Consumer Reports’ findings reinforce the need for strong school lunch standards that ensure children have access to healthy foods while their brains develop.

“We really need to re-examine and re-evaluate the types of policies that are currently in place and how they can be changed to give our children a chance,” he said.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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