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How healthy are your fruit snacks really? Don't fall for misleading marketing tricks

Updated on November 23, 2014

Lesson # 1, fresh food has more nutrients than processed food

I read in a magazine the other day how important it is to eat plenty of fruit. The article suggested that for a “healthy food snack on the run”, mothers should buy their kids Apple Slices. And I believe that many mothers do exactly that in the belief, that they are doing the right thing. After all, one apple a day keeps the doctor away! Now I start wondering, what is actually wrong with a fresh apple, eaten the old-fashioned way? Why do we bring up kids these days on pre-packaged food full of additives? I wonder, how many nutrients are in apple slices, which have been processed and stored days before they get eaten. Apparently treated apple slices have a 21-day shelf-life while retaining their crispness and not even turning brown! I would call this a chemical miracle, as any fresh apple will oxidize and lose it's crispness minutes after being cut.

Always read the label to make sure that a fruit snack actually contains fruit
Always read the label to make sure that a fruit snack actually contains fruit | Source

You don’t need to be a food expert to see that there is obviously far more goodness in a fresh apple than in bought apple slices and the low-fat, high sugar dipping sauce doesn't exactly add any beneficial nutrients either. It only makes your children more dependent on unnecessary sugar-laced condiments.

Making your own apple slices is healthier and environment friendly

If your family prefers apple slices, you are better off preparing them yourself. In this way you are sure that no unhealthy additives are added and you are also saving the environment from more unnecessary packaging material that goes into the dumpster.

Advice: If you don't want your apple slices to turn brown, rinse them in water and a few drops of fresh lemon juice, adding some natural and healthy vitamin C.

Lesson # 2: Fresh food is natural, processed food may have ingredients that you probably wouldn't want to eat if you knew what they are

While your fresh apple is 100% fruit, some sliced apples available at your store or fast food restaurant may contain ingredients like calcium ascorbate, ascorbic acid or calcium chloride.

What exactly is calcium chloride?

Calcium chloride, CaCl2, is a salt of calcium and chlorine. Common applications include brine for refrigeration plants, ice and dust control on roads, and desiccation. Calcium chloride is also a permitted food additive and firming agent commonly known as E509. In low doses it is considered safe for human consumption, but I doubt that it is actually healthy for you.


In Canada, Calcium Chloride is commonly used to melt ice and snow, making streets and sidewalks safer for pedestrians and drivers.

Calcium chloride also speeds up the setting of concrete mixes. However, due to its corrosive behaviour on steel rebar, it should be avoided in reinforced concrete.

Calcium chloride is used as a pH buffer and softener in swimming pool water.

Calcium chloride is also found in a whole range of applications from plastics to fire extinguishers, for wastewater treatment as well as in the oil industry.

Fresh fruit is still the best snack. It contains no preservatives, no artificial dyes, no additional sugar and plenty of fibre
Fresh fruit is still the best snack. It contains no preservatives, no artificial dyes, no additional sugar and plenty of fibre | Source
When you buy dried fruit or preserves always check for sulphur dioxide and sugar
When you buy dried fruit or preserves always check for sulphur dioxide and sugar | Source

Food for thought

My point: In low dosage, calcium chloride is probably not harmful. I guess your child would have to eat approx. half a ton of McDonalds Apple dippers or another store bought brand in order to be poisoned, which is very unlikely. However, we eat so many different processed foods containing questionable ingredients such as calcium chloride or potassium chloride etc., that I sometimes wonder if they don’t accumulate in our bodies over time...

Potassium chloride is added to a wide range of foods that we eat in our daily lifes. For a complete list go to the following website (you might be amazed):

Remember, your fresh apple doesn't contain any of that stuff!

Most fruit candy only contain artificial flavors and harmful coloring instead of fruit.
Most fruit candy only contain artificial flavors and harmful coloring instead of fruit. | Source

Lesson # 3: Fruit snacks don’t always contain fruit

While some fruit snacks are in fact healthy and loaded with healthy fruit, others only contain chemical ingredients, plenty of unhealthy sugar and artificial fruit flavour. So if you want to make sure that you are in fact eating something healthy, always read the label properly. For food analysis, you may find the link below useful:

Lesson # 4: Blueberry bits don’t really contain any blueberries

Another shocker: Are you sure that your favouite blueberry snacks contain actual berries? Read the label. E.g. the popular "blueberry bits" found in many cereals, muffin mixes etc. have nothing in common with the natural thing. They are an advertising trick with the sole purpose to mislead the customer into believing that he actually buys something healthy. Blueberry bits are made out of sugar, corn cereal, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial flavor, cellulose gum, salt and artificial colors like Blue #2, Red #40, Green #3 and Blue #1, not a single bit of blueberry in sight. Furthermore scientific studies prove that such dyes can actually be harmful to your kid and cause hyperactivity and ADHD.

How can you as a consumer learn what all these ingredients are

The best to know what's in your fruit snack is ALWAYS READ THE LABEL! Of course no busy mom has the time to study all the different ingredients while rushing around the supermarket but there is an easy way to get around this. Go to the manufacturer's website and analyze the labels at home in your armchair. However, I suggest that you don't do this before going to bed as your sweet dreams are likely to turn into nightmares.

What can you do about all this

Thank you for reading this article all the way to the bitter end. I hope it made you more aware that advertising is often misleading and that you should always take a minute to analyze the ingredients of a healthy sounding product. Especially products such as fruit bars, fruit leather, fruit candy, fruit juices, fruit yogurt etc. often contain a minimal amount of fruit, a great amount of artificial flavors and an even greater amount of high fructose corn syrup which can be damaging to your health. Therefore, next time you want to buy a healthy snack, make sure that you analyze the ingredients list and if you don't like it, start making your own fruit snacks. The recipes are simple and you can even involve the whole family. It will be fun and at the same make everybody more aware about healthy lifestyle choices.

Fruit Snack Scam

Were you aware that many fruit snacks are not good for you?

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    • ThisisMissyMiss profile image

      Mommy 3 years ago from The Fabulous Midwest

      Very interesting. I love reading stuff like this.

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Charron: Don't worry about the blueberries. You can still buy the fresh, the frozen and the dried blueberries. Just avoid the blueberry bits and if possible, buy an organic product that doesn't contain sulphites. I usually buy these items in the health food section and always check the labels to make double sure. It's shocking what the food manufacturers are feeding us these days. In Europe, food containing potentially harmful dyes must have a warning label, in the US and other countries this is not the case. I believe we should all support groups like and sign their petitions to force the government to do something about this.

    • CharronsChatter profile image

      Karen Robiscoe 5 years ago from California

      I know they put sulfites in produce--now I know a lot more! Terrible about the blueberries--I am a huge fan--but not too surprising. The less processed food you eat--and less sugar!--the better. You pointed out this and other great 411, including the citrus trick! I'm hitting all cylinders on this HUB--because you certainly did! ;)

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      healthylife: Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you, nowadays I always check the labels and if the wrong ingredients are in it, the product doesn't get into my shopping cart. I find that more and more dried fruit and other supposedly healthy snacks contain potassium sorbate and other additives that weren't in there before. Although I am a frugal shopper I am prepared to pay more for quality food and like you I avoid processed food as much as possible.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Excellent hub! So many people see the word fruit in a snack and assume it is healthy. I have learned to take it to the next level and evaluate all ingredients.It's much easier to avoid processed food because you know what you are getting. Voted up!

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Violet, thanks for the interesting link regarding food labeling in meat and poultry as well as additives. Makes you think once more what kind of food we it, doesn't it?

    • profile image

      violet 6 years ago

      this blog addresses some other confusing labeling scenarios:

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Some processed foods have been found to have carcinogens. The fresher the better, healthier and tastier.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      Its shocking to know how much ignorance there are towards pre-packaged and processed foods!

      Knowing how much harm you do to yourself and your body by eating this stuff I rather much prefer the "natural" thing!

      By eating healthy we should stay away from this junk as much as possible!

      Great hub! Voted up!


    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      RTalloni & S. Wilson: Thanks for your comments. I have done some more research on the subject of potassium chloride and added a list of foods under the chapter "food for thought". Amazingly, potassium chloride seems to be added to most of our daily processed foods. Our "healthy" bodies need potassium for proper functioning but too much is definitely not good and it can be really bad for people with kidney problems. Now if you add up all the stuff we eat on a daily basis, I wonder if most of us would be within the healthy limits or not. Also, did you know that potassium chloride is used for lethal injections of criminals sentenced to death? Makes you think, doesn't it! I'm not against McDonalds or any other food chain, I would just like to make people more aware that all that processed food that we take for granted these days is not good for you.

    • s.wilson profile image

      s.wilson 6 years ago

      I never thought to compare the prepackaged stuff with the real thing. Who would have thought that it is much different? Thanks for sharing; this article is very enlightening.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Excellent post--thanks so much for laying it out so well. I often wonder about children in particular where ingredients like calcium chloride are used. The tender growing tissues of their tiny bodies being exposed to that sort of ingredient is stunning.

      Voted up and useful--this another hub that I wish had an "important" vote to click on.