Breakfast is the most beneficial meal of the day. But not when it’s full of GMOs. Throughout January, GMO Inside has called on consumers to make a Fresh Start with 4 Easy Steps, and to let Kellogg’s and General Mills know that we prefer our breakfasts GMO Free and with clear labels letting us know if products do contain GMOs.
Both Kellogg’s and General mills are icons in the breakfast food world, and while these companies claim to be healthy and wholesome, their products present a very strong argument to the contrary.
As part of GMO Inside’s call to action for a Fresh Start, we are focusing on cold cereals and snack bars, two common breakfast choices that carry a high risk of containing GMOs.
The following are breakfast cereals and bars from Kellogg’s and General Mills that deserve special acknowledgement for their intense use of controversial ingredients, a high risk of GMOs, negligible benefits as a breakfast food item, and additional transgressions in the GMO and health world.
Cold Cereal - While cereal by default is not the worst way to start your day, the following options are certainly lowering the bar for the whole category. These subsequent items stood out based on their particularly high use of likely GMOs, some clear nutritional no-no’s, and the inclusion of controversial ingredients beyond GMOs
Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal:
The Honey Smacks ingredients list is a learning opportunity for those new to GMOs, presenting consumers with a solid list of ingredients that are either GMOs themselves or at a high risk of being derived from GMOs. Looking at the ingredients you see Sugar, Dextrose, Honey, Vegetable Oil, Caramel Color, Soy Lecithin, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B12 – all carrying their own risk of being a GMO. In fact, the only ingredients that are not on a possible GMO list are Wheat, Salt, the added Vitamins, and BHT.
Even if someone was trying to defend Honey Smacks as a breakfast choice, and they got you to ignore the fact that the vast majority of ingredients are probable GMOs, they would still have to address the fact that this cereal contains a considerable 15 grams of sugar per serving, very low fiber content for a breakfast cereal (good fiber content is something you should look for if you are looking for a healthier breakfast cereal), and that the ingredients list also includes hydrogenated oils and BHT, which have their own health controversies to deal with. In the end, this highly processed cereal is indefensible from a health standpoint.
Lucky Charms from General Mills:
It would not be a bad breakfast party without Lucky Charms, a strong contender for worst cold breakfast cereal by our research. Looking at the box, we start off on a high note in the ingredients list with whole grain oats , but it is all downhill from there, with a wave of possible GMOs including Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, regular old Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Vitamin E , Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, and Artificial Colors. Lucky Charms is a highly processed product with 10 grams of sugar per serving, a full-range of controversial artificial food colorings, and strongly reliant on corn based products that carry a high GMO risk.
Fiber One, Raisin Bran Clusters from General Mills:
This option may surprise a few out there. While Fiber One may have some vaguely better breakfast options out there, these Raisin Bran Clusters standout for all of the wrong reasons. Possible GMOs include Corn Bran, Sugar, Corn Starch, Glycerin, Corn Syrup, Canola Oil, Molasses, Honey, Corn Meal, Malt Syrup, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Vitamin E. Vitamin C, and Vitamin B12. Also of note, controversial ingredient BHT is present, which has shown to be carcinogenic in some studies, and this cereal has more sugar per serving than Lucky Charms. One final thing to address is a fiber flaw. Earlier it was mentioned that a cereal being a good source of fiber is a good thing, well this cereal takes it way over the top, because 43% of your daily dietary fiber all in one serving is just unnecessary. It would be much healthier and comfortable for you to spread that amount of fiber across the first half of your day’s intake.
Breakfast Snack Bar - Bars are convenient and can sometimes look wholesome, but most pack quite a sugar punch and can be misleading with their dietary impacts due to their size. The following breakfast snack bars are noteworthy for their surprisingly high number of ingredients, the general lack of quality in those ingredients, and their intensive use of probable GMOs.
This is one of the worst snack or meal bars that we came across in our GMO research this month. Looking at the nutrition facts of this protein snack bar, we see TBHQ, numerous sources of sugar, fully hydrogenated oils, controversial palm oil, and a trans fat asterisk hidden at the bottom of the ingredients list. The number of ingredients in this highly processed item is astounding, and the list of possible GMOs within that is a testament to this. Possible GMOs include Sugar, Whey, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavor, Corn Syrup, Fructose, Soy Protein Isolate, Cottonseed Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Toasted Soy Pieces, Soybean Oil, Soy Protein Concentrate, Glycerin, Molasses, Sodium Ascorbate, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Vitamin E, and finally Vitamin B12. This bars nutritional panel is filled with red flags for the health conscious consumer.
Milk N Cereal Bars, Cinnamon Toast Crunch from General Mills
Probable GMOs on our nutrition facts label include Sugar, Malt Extract, Caramel Color, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Canola Oil, Mono and Di Glycerides, Palm Kernel & Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oils, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, Corn Syrup, Soy Flour, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Fructose, Isolated Soy Protein, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Vitamin C, Caramel and Annatto Extract Color, Vitamin B12, and Mixed Tocopherols. It is disheartening how many possible GMOs there are in this breakfast bar, and while it presents itself as a good source of vitamins, the 14 Grams of sugar, the presence of BHT, TBHQ, the challenges of just reading some of these ingredients names, and the hydrogenated oils are more than enough to put this item on my do not eat list.
So there we have it, the cold cereal and snack bar products that stood out amongst a sea of other GMO heavy and unhealthy Kellogg’s and General Mills breakfast products.
If you think you have an even worse offender from Kellogg’s or General Mills, feel free to add it in the comments. But if you really want to make a difference… avoid these items, shop for non-GMO alternatives, and join us in a Fresh Start and let your voices be heard by the companies who do not want you to have the right to know what is in your food.
Remember breakfast is not dessert, and that it is possible to make choices that are healthy for yourself, your families, and the environment.