A few months ago, PepsiCo, parent corporation of Frito-Lay, announced an initiative to research nutrition and make their popular snack foods healthier. By the end of the year, Frito-Lay intends to have half their line of snacks made from natural ingredients.
The Usual Ingredients
The plain or original versions of Ruffles and Tostitos only contain three ingredients: potatoes (for Ruffles) or corn (for Tostitos), vegetable oil, and salt. It’s when flavorings, like barbecue or sour cream and chives, are added to the chips that artificial ingredients are added.
Ruffle barbecue flavor chips, for instance, include sugar, corn maltodextrin, dextrose, brown sugar, onion powder, monosodium glutamate, spices, tomato powder, molasses solids, yeast extract, modified corn starch, artificial colors, garlic powder, corn starch, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors and mesquite smoke flavor, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate as ingredients. Other flavors can include even more ingredients.
Artificial Food Colorings, Artificial Flavorings, and Hyperactivity
Artificial food colorings have been linked to hyperactivity in children, although not conclusively. What appears to be clear is that artificial food additives cause hyperactivity in some children. Several consumer groups have pressed the FDA to put limits on artificial food colorings and flavorings or at least a warning label on foods containing them, but a few weeks ago, the FDA decided to do nothing.
Since nobody (adults and kids alike) needs artificial food colorings and flavorings – they have no nutritive value – eating foods without them won’t cause us any harm. But potato chips are fun and tasty and sometimes, I just want some.
But Will It Cost More?
Frito-Lay says the chips with natural food colorings and flavors cost 35% more, but the chips have been in my local stores for some time and the price hasn’t changed from the non-natural ingredient chips. Perhaps they’ve found some way to keep from passing the cost on to the consumer.
Going natural doesn’t seem to include organic foods. Frito-Lay has a line of chips made from some organic ingredients, but their “Natural” line of chips seems to be a separate endeavor from their “made from natural ingredients” push.
If Frito-Lay is successful with their new natural ingredients products, other companies will soon be doing the same. When a company as large as Frito-Lay finds something profitable and appealing to consumers, it changes the way business is done among other large companies and, to some extent, smaller companies.