School Holidays and a trip to Perth usually mean a trip to Ikea. Partly because it’s close to where my in-laws live, partly for the
cheap affordable home items, and mostly for an indoor playground where the kids can play while being unsupervised, by their parents that is. Yay, one hour of kid free time. We usually time it so we can buy lunch there as it is a lot cheaper than fast food alternatives and there is plenty of choice. And of course the kids can watch a movie afterwards while we figure out where to go next.
This trip I particularly took note of a sign I saw whilst in the queue. See said sign below.
How excellent, I thought, no MSG and AZO colours in the foods served at Ikea. However, I had some more questions like, “Why mention minimising the use of certain preservatives, when you haven’t minimized any, or at least not mentioned the ones you are minimizing? MSG is a flavour enhancer and AZO colours are for appearance, neither are preservatives.” Or “Ikea Food branded products, so are you talking about packaged food you sell that has the Ikea logo on it, or are you referring to food served in the Ikea Cafeteria where I’m reading this sign? Does this mean if it’s not packaged that it will have synthetic additives in it that could impact my health negatively?” Ok, so maybe a bit melodramatic, but the point is that the sign isn’t very clear, and definitely at first glance make you assume that the food contains natural ingredients and therefore that it is a good thing to eat Ikea food. Nice marketing ploy Ikea.
So after reading this sign, and purchasing my kids the Snack Pack (best value, and so much food my kids have left overs for an afternoon snack) we found a table in the crowded cafeteria. I thought I’d check out the ingredients in the kids snack pack, which I have done before, some time, a while ago, I’m sure I checked.
The cheese in the sandwich is proper sliced cheese, nothing plastic here, and kudos to Ikea for the wholemeal bread. The yoghurt was strawberry or banana flavoured, and this mum decided not to salvage the licked lid to look at properly at home. But going by a similar product, it would have had at least 3.24 teaspoons of sugar in a 90 gram serve. Luckily the popcorn was one I was already familiar and happy with from Cool Pak.
The fruit bar had 35% fruit and 4 different types of sugar listed equating to 11.5g sugar (almost 3 teaspoons). Wow, have you seen how tiny those bars are? And although I didn’t expect to see milk solids listed as an ingredient, it was there, as were the unlisted Sulphites (probably from the coconut and sultanas). But true to advertising, no AZO dyes were used to colour the fruit bar, just a natural colouring 120 also known as Cochineal, which if you care about animals, let alone your health, you’d not eat this at all.
Uncle Toby’s Muesli bar (lunchbox friendly according to the packaging), with it’s 5.4g sugar (1.5 teaspoons via 6 separate sugar ingredients) contained one suspect ingredient additive 492, and only one to avoid, sulphites (again in the coconut).
I point out the sugar in these products because I recently saw That Sugar Film (great film by the way) and was personally challenged on how much sugar I think is OK. Not how much is the right amount to eat in a legalistic sort of way, but how much is OK for me to feed my family, for me to be OK with. I haven’t worked that out yet, but I thought by way of comparison I’d share this image below.
So if my kids ate everything in their snack pack they would have consumed at least 7.6 teaspoons of sugar for lunch, ouch! On the other hand, if we had visited the big M for a quick lunch, and given the kids our choice of nuggets/chips/ketchup/water, they would have only ended up with 2 grams of sugar for lunch, and probably additives to avoid galore! Luckily school holidays only come round once every 10 weeks!
Eating additive aware is a challenge, and more so when eating out and making decisions quickly. Whatever you do decide, I hope at least it’s a mindful choice. And that you realise what you are really eating. Don’t just believe the advertising.
Oh by the way, did I mention the snack pack even comes with a toy? At least you can preview the bags to make sure your children don’t end up with the same one!
What do you find challenging about food advertising and what would you want changed if you could?