Post cereals made headlines by declaring some of their products gluten-free. This set many in the celiac and gluten-free community abuzz, celebrating Post’s “enlightenment.” Among the cereals declared gluten-free: Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, Marshmallow Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles Treats.
Let’s think this through: If there is an unhealthy component in a food, and we then remove just that component, does that mean that all that remains is healthy? After all traces of gluten have been removed (or are not added), here’s what remains in gluten-free Fruity Pebbles:
Rice, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut And Palm Kernel Oils), Salt, Contains Less Than 0.5% Of Natural And Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Yellow 6, Turmeric Oleoresin (Color), Blue 1, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Bha (To Help Protect Flavor).
So, gluten-free Fruity Pebbles contain a very high-glycemic index form of rice (i.e., pulverized rice), sugar, “trans” fats, artificial colors, and butylated hydroxyanisole, a suspected carcinogen in the gastrointestinal tract. A 3/4-cup serving yields 23 grams total carbohydrates, zero grams fiber, for a total 23 grams of “net” or effective carbohydrates. (Note that Post has recently boasted about the reduction in sugar to 9 grams per 3/4-cup serving, but fails to note that the form of rice used raises blood sugar higher than table sugar, gram for gram.)
In other words, it is plain awful. Unfortunately, this did not stop many in the celiac and gluten-free community from showering praise on Post and its new gluten awareness. The Celiac Awareness section of About.com, for instance, posted these comments:
“Post Foods earned kudos from those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity when it announced that it had made its popular Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereals gluten-free . . . Although most people think of Pebbles cereals as a kids’ product, I’ve known plenty of adults who like them. Gluten-free consumers can find Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles in most supermarkets.”
Here’s the ingredient list for gluten-free Marshmallow Pebbles:
Rice, Sugar, Marshmallow Bits (Sugar, Modified Cornstarch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Natural And Artificial Flavor), Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut And Palm Kernel Oils), Salt, Contains Less Than 0.5% Of Natural And Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Caramel Color. Bht Added To Packaging Material To Preserve Product Freshness.
In effect, it contains sugar, sugar, sugar, trans fats, artificial flavors and colors, and a potential carcinogen.
Any of this gluten-free stuff sound even remotely healthy to you?