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Fake blueberries abound in food products

January 20, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Some food products use fake blueberries.
Some food products use fake blueberries. (Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles…)

Fake blueberries are usually plastic and can be found with other fake fruits in decorative arrangements or on bizarre hats.

Now, apparently, they can be found in food. A range of fake blueberries are in a number of retail food items that contain labels or photos suggesting real blueberries were used in the products, according to an investigation.

Sigh.

As if it's not hard enough to include fruits in your diet. Now you have to watch for fraudulent food.

The nonprofit Consumer Wellness Center reported Thursday that its investigation found "blueberries" that were nothing more than a concoction of sugar, corn syrup, starch, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors and -- of course -- artificial food dye blue No. 2 and red No. 40. The offenders are well-known manufacturers such as Kellogg's, Betty Crocker and General Mills, and the fakes were found in bagels, cereals, breads and muffins. Some products contain real blueberries mixed with fakes. For example, the blueberry bagels sold at Target contain some real berries but the "blueberry bits" listed in the ingredients aren't real blueberries, according to Mike Adams, the author of the report.

Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry Muffin variety has no blueberries but does have "blueberry flavored crunchies" made from the sugar-and-dye concoction mentioned above.

My personal favorite fraud is Total Blueberry Pomegranate cereal, from General Mills, which contains no blueberries and no pomegranates.

Aren't there laws against this type of thing?

However, Adams did find that Natures' Path Organic Optimum Blueberry-Cinnamon Breakfast Cereal contains -- drumroll -- blueberries and cinnamon! And both are really organic too.

To avoid fraudulent blueberries posing as real berries, look on ingredient lists for red No. 40, blue No. 2 or any artificial colors, Adams says.

Watch the "Blueberry Deception" investigation video here.

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