Blueberries are touted as a super health food. Eager to capitalize on that, manufacturers of prepared foods are plastering the berries all over their packaging. But Consumer Reports finds just because it’s blue on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean it’s blue on the inside.
For instance, the blueberry pancake mix from Krusteaz does not have blueberries or fruit of any kind in a long list of ingredients. It does have a disclaimer on the box that says "artificially flavored" and "imitation blueberries," which in the Krusteaz pancake mix are made of palm oil, cellulose gum, and several dyes.
What about Kellogg's Blueberry Muffin Frosted Mini-Wheats? Blue on the outside, but the only blue thing in the cereal is a dye called blue 2 lake. A Kellogg's company spokesperson says, "The term 'Blueberry Muffin' is used to describe the flavor, and the product is labeled in compliance with laws and regulations."
Consumer Reports found some other products that prominently display blueberries but have only blueberry juice in them, and that comes way down on the list of ingredients, behind sugar and corn syrup. And Ocean Spray's Blueberry Craisins are not dried blueberries at all, the packaging says dried cranberries "infused" with blueberry juice.
Bottom line, read the ingredients carefully.
Keep in mind, as the weather gets cooler, fresh berries are harder to find and more expensive.
Consumer Reports says frozen berries can be a good substitute since they retain most of their vitamins.
As with most fruits and vegetables, Consumer Reports says it’s best to eat blueberries before they or their juice end up in packaged products.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.