Wednesday, 27 April 2011

B’org Breakfast Cereal


My mother always said that boxed cereals tasted like cardboard to her. Maybe it was because she was from Michigan and knew what they were up to in the laboratory at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. But I think it was a pretty common perception for those who grew up on real food before the proliferation of boxed cereals on the market to instinctively know that boxed cereals did not have much going for them.

So what was going on in the laboratory at Ann Arbor? In the 1960s, an experiment with rats, corn flakes and the box they come in was conducted. Although it is unfortunate that the results were never peer reviewed or published, the findings supported my mother's observation with the conclusion that boxed cereals are worse for health than cardboard! I would wonder why this was not followed up except for the fact that the makers of boxed cereals are all part of the B’org Food Chain.

At any rate, if you haven't already seen it, I would like to refer you to an interesting article called Something You've Never Been Told About Breakfast Cereals which includes details about the Ann Arbor experiment and another one. In particular, I noted that each little flake or shape of cereal product is sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal and give it crunch (even shredded wheat). Although the rest of how boxed cereal is made is important, the finishing touches are in themselves dangerous for health, especially for people with health concerns to begin with, and these are many nowadays. The evils of sugar are notorious. However, the coating of oil may be another stroke against your health.

I found further evidence online for how boxed cereal is made here at pages 671 - 674.  The process involves heating the coating mixture up (in this reference to 325°F and the cereal dough itself from 300°F to 350°F).  If the oils used are hydrogenated or trans fats are present, as explained by Dr Campbell-McBride in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome (2010 version), this can be dangerous to health:

“To make vegetable oils solid and to increase their shelf life they are hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is a process of adding hydrogen molecules to the chemical structure of oils under high pressure at a high temperature (120-210°C or 248-410°F) in the presence of nickel, aluminium and sometimes other toxic metals. Remnants of these metals stay in the hydrogenated oils. Nickel and aluminium are both toxic metals, adding to the general toxic load which the body has to work hard to get rid of. Toxic metals have been linked to many degenerative conditions, including learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia” (p 256).

Trans fats are a side effect of hydrogenation which most people know have been implicated in such diseases as atherosclerosis, cancer, neurological and psychiatric conditions. Made from unsaturated fatty acids, the chemical structure is changed through processing at high temperatures to one that basically disables cells in the body.

As I have briefly shown, boxed cereals are highly processed and not good for you.  But, boxed cereals have developed into a major problem today (for our health, not for the food industry). All one has to do is walk into any supermarket and see the many shelves stuffed with a vast array of boxed cereal products to see how popular they are. Also, companies that make these products, such as Nestlé, are thriving even with the news of high raw material prices (see, for example, the Financial Times article on 15 April 2011 called Nestlé overcomes high raw materials prices). I think a Star Trek horror episode could be created out of this story! Unfortunately, a real life horror story is enfolding right before our eyes.

Watch out for General Mills' Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry, and the discontinued Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy (there may be a few lurking around somewhere even though discontinued)!!

I popped into my local Tesco on 27 April 2011 on the way to the library and took these photos.  The first one was at the end of the cereal aisle where shoppers were being enticed to ruin their health for half price.  All the usual really.