Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

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In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pinkberry Scandal!

You remember Pinkberry, the yogurty frozen yogurt concoction that was so addicitively delicious that people compared it to "frozen heroic juice."

And it was supposed to be good for you, too. Fresh fruits. Organic ingredients. And that buzzword of buzzwords, natural.


Out of sheer coincidence, Pinkberry finally posted its ingredients on its website just after it settled a court suit about deceptive advertising. (No connection between the two events, says Pinkberry.)

And as The New York Times writer Julia Moskin wrote:

The ingredients list for Original Pinkberry has 23 items. Skim milk and nonfat yogurt are listed first, then three kinds of sugar: sucrose, fructose and dextrose. Fructose and maltodextrin, another ingredient, are both laboratory-produced ingredients extracted from corn syrup.

The list includes at least five additives defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as emulsifiers (propylene glycol esters, lactoglycerides, sodium acid pyrophosphate, mono- and diglycerides); four acidifiers (magnesium oxide, calcium fumarate, citric acid, sodium citrate); tocopherol, a natural preservative; and two ingredients — starch and maltodextrin — that were characterized as fillers by Dr. Gary A. Reineccius, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota and an expert in food additives.

And that "all natural" claim? Well, the yogurt was natural. The others? Not so much.
Some of them can be characterized as natural, while others are clearly not, he said.

"Isn't it amazing how many additives it takes to make something taste natural?" Dr. Reineccius said.

Many of the ingredients give Pinkberry qualities that nonfat frozen yogurt would not have naturally, Dr. Reineccius said.

"They are there to make something smooth, sweet and tangy that would otherwise be gritty and flavorless in a frozen state," he said.

So how good for you is Pinkberry (or their competitor, Red Mango)?
Pinkberry and Red Mango now enjoy the Live and Active Cultures seal of the National Yogurt Association, certifying that their frozen yogurt contains at least 10 million live cultures per gram at the time of manufacture.

But the specific health effects of live cultures — now called probiotics — and how many of them are needed to provide a beneficial effect have not been determined.

In January another yogurt-related class action lawsuit was filed, against Dannon, challenging the company’s claims that the benefits of its trademarked probiotics were "clinically" and "scientifically" proven.

Pinkberry announced its certification two weeks ago, just as a preliminary settlement was reached in the class action suit. While saying it had done nothing wrong, Pinkberry agreed to donate $750,000 to hunger and children’s charities, and to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs.

Look. In moderation Pinkberry is fine. So is ice cream, even the super-premium kind, if you can tolerate it. The key word is "moderation."

If you can't keep it down to a scoop or less, then any of these fancy desserts will pack on the pounds. Loading them up with added candy and other bits of pure sugar won't help any.

If you are sensitive to artificial colors and additives, however, then Pinkberry ought to go onto your forbidden list.

And "natural" gets another big black eye from a careless - or worse - marketer.

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