• Nabisco Oreos. That white filling lacks milk, butter, eggs or any other dairy component. (When Consumer Reports asked a Kraft customer service rep what makes the filling smooth and creamy, she said the answer was a trade secret.) Oreos have about a dozen ingredients, starting with sugar, flour, various vegetable oils, high-fructose corn syrup and cocoa. Chocolate is the last ingredient.
• Mrs. Butterworth’s Original Syrup. There’s neither butter nor maple syrup in this topping, though a representative from Pinnacle Foods said that Mrs. Butterworth’s did include 2 percent real butter in the 1970s. Today’s version lists high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum (a thickener) and molasses before a generic reference to “natural and artificial” flavor.
Bottom line: Many commercially prepared products are loaded with the stuff of chemistry class and tend to be high in calories from added sugars. Consumer Reports’ advice:
• Look past pretty pictures and tasty names. Photos of fruit and words such as “butter” may convey a false impression of what’s inside. The truth is on the label. The FDA requires that ingredients be listed in descending order by weight.
• Compare labels. Some processed foods have more extras than others. In addition to milk and cream, Kraft Simply Cottage Cheese includes whey; salt; modified food starch; guar, xanthan and carob bean gums; and carrageenan. Daisy Cottage Cheese, on the other hand, has three ingredients: skim milk, cream and salt.
• Beware of buzzwords. There’s a reason companies use “bac’n” instead of bacon: It’s not the real deal. Potato “crisps” such as Lay’s can’t be “chips” because the FDA requires a chip to consist of a thinly sliced potato fried in deep fat, not something fabricated from dried potatoes with cornstarch, sugar and soy lecithin.