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Food Briefs

Lottery: Havoc in Markets Feared

September 05, 1985|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

Dreamers planning on winning a big payday in the California lottery are likely to make life a bit more dreary for the non-chance-taking supermarket shopper, according to a report in a food industry trade magazine.

Supermarkets are a major outlet for lottery tickets in the 22 states that operate the games and will play a similar role when this state's lottery begins. The resulting sales are likely to lengthen checkout lines and disrupt market operations, reports Progressive Grocer magazine.

"Instant or rub-off ticket games . . . can cause delays if customers need instructions with the game--especially if more than one game is run at a time--or if they try the game while standing in line," the magazine reports. "On-line number-picking games, like lotto, cause other problems such as misread or mutilated tickets or huge traffic jams when bettors rush to get a chance at a large jackpot."

Although the food retailers receive 5% of all ticket sales, many are complaining that the figure is too low for all the time required to sell and process the game.

A representative of the California Grocers Assn. predicted that virtually all stores that sell lottery tickets will lose money and called the whole affair "a losing proposition."

Is It Real Cheese?--Advertisements for one of Kraft Inc.'s best-selling products were called "false and misleading" in a petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest with the Federal Trade Commission.

The consumer advocacy group found fault with statements made in Kraft's television and magazine ads that seemed to imply that the highly processed food spread, Cheez Whiz, was real cheese. The Cheez Whiz statements in question include "real cheese made easy" and "how to have real cheese."

"The Kraft ad campaign is a deliberate attempt to pass off a cheap, inferior cheese product concocted by food technologists as real cheese," according to a Center for Science representative.

The group claims that Cheez Whiz could legally contain as little as 51% real cheese. The other ingredients include whey (a waste byproduct from the cheese-making process), food coloring and preservatives. Furthermore, the presence of some of these ingredients indicates that Cheez Whiz does not meet federal definitions for cheese.

The complaint has prompted a Kraft corporate review of the Cheez Whiz advertising campaign and may result in changes, even though a company spokesman denied that the ads are false and misleading.

"We are concerned whenever any of our consumers might misinterpret any of our ads and we're always concerned about it, not just in this incident, but in others," said Ella Strubel, Kraft vice president. "However, we do believe the ads are factual. On the ads it says Cheez Whiz is pasteurized processed cheese. Anyone knows it is not 100% natural cheese. Does the average consumer think that natural cheese comes in a jar and is spreadable?"

Strubel declined to state exactly how much natural cheese is in Cheez Whiz, but acknowledged that it met federal requirements for a processed cheese.

"Cheez Whiz advertisements, like all Kraft advertisements, are reliable, truthful and provide healthful information for consumers to make purchase decisions," she said.

Getting Salt Out--A two-year research project by the federal government has concluded that food companies can dramatically reduce the sodium levels of processed food without losing a perceptible amount of flavor or shelf life.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that food technologists in the Agriculture Research Service have developed "new formulas for lower salt in processed foods" such as hot dogs and corned beef. The technique can reduce salt content by about 25%.

The process is noteworthy because Americans consume about 30% of their salt intake from the types of food mentioned in the USDA report. Reducing sodium consumption may help limit the incidence of diseases such as high blood pressure.

Taste tests found that the reduced-salt foods were competitive with current commercial brands in flavor, texture and shelf life, according to the USDA, which will offer the technology to interested food companies.

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