Of all the fruits commonly found at the grocery store, blueberries and breakfast just seem to go together. There are blueberry muffins, blueberry coffee cakes, blueberry pancakes — the list goes on and on. But it turns out that not all of the blueberry breakfasts you enjoy actually have blueberries in them — they’re synthetic berries made from a mashup of sugars and dyes.
If you look at the ingredient list of your favorite breakfast treat and it doesn’t say plain old “blueberries,” chances are what you’re eating is fake. Under names like “blueberry pieces,” “blueberry powder” and “blueberry crunchlets” lurk what’s usually just a combination of sugar, starch and blue dye. Um, yum? Yeah, not so much.
Then, there are the products that do contain real blueberries… along with a host of other ingredients. Kind Blueberry Pecan Bars lists “blueberry pieces” on their packaging, but the blueberry pieces also contain apple juice, vegetable glycerin, citrus pectin and sunflower oil. Last time I checked, blueberries had one ingredient: blueberries!
So, what’s the lesson here? I guess that, as usual, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Packaged foods just aren’t the way to get your daily intake of fruit — you’re better off making muffins, oatmeal and granola bars from scratch if you want real blueberries.
There’s been some talk about the FDA investigating the prevalence of fake blueberry in foods and deciding whether or not it’s legal to present them as real berries, but so far, nothing has come of it. In the meantime, read your ingredient labels carefully, and if a blueberry craving strikes, reach for the real thing.