Ottawa doctor says Heart and Stroke Foundation is misleading parents over a "Health Check" product
An Ottawa doctor is accusing the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation of misleading parents over a product it has endorsed as "healthy". Dr. Yoni Freedhoff says there's nothing more than sugar and water in the Fruitsource Fruit Bites. Freedhoff says for the Heart and Stroke Foundation to endorse the product is shameful. The brightly colored packages are labeled 100% fruit with no sugar added. They are emblazed with the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check symbol that indicates the products is a healthy choice. Shoppers say they rely on that label to help them make nutritious choices.
“I would usually believe the Heart and Stroke Foundation's emblem,” says shopper Christiane Debrentani.
Shopper Shawn Taylor adds, "I would assume that they would do due diligence on the ingredients on the product, so that would lean me towards buying it as a healthy alternative.”
But Dr. Yoni Freedhoff says that's not the case. In his on-line blog Weighty Matters, Freedhoff chastised the Heart and Stroke Foundation for promoting a product that he says is mostly sugar.
"The Heart and Stroke Foundation should be ashamed of themselves.”
Sunrype says the fruit bites are 100 percent fruit and that one serving of 17 pieces (30 grams) contains the equivalent of two servings of fruit, along with being a source of fibre, potassium and vitamins.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation says it knows parents struggle with getting their kids to eat real fruits and vegetables.
Terry Dean is the director of the Health Check program with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, “So what we've tried to do with the Health Check program is to create alternatives to parents who are desperate to get some kind of fruit and vegetables into their kids’ diets.”
But Freedhoff says the fruit bites are not the answer. He calls the product candy, with double the sugar that an equivalent amount of Nibs licorice pieces contains.
"This is spooning 6 teaspoons of sugar into your child's mouth and telling your child this is a healthy choice,” says Freedhoff.
He doesn't blame the company making the products. He's angry with the Heart and Stroke Foundation for endorsing them. The Foundation says Sunrype paid a licensing fee of $19,500 this year that will go towards helping the not-for-profit Health Check Program.
“Abusing the public's trust to sell candy to kids under the guise of fruit is not what the Heart and Stroke Foundation is supposed to be doing,” adds Freedhoff.
Shoppers who take the time to read the back of the package say they understand what they’re reading.
"Well it's sugar and carbs,” says shopper Anthony Venture, “that's pretty much all it is, sugar and carbs.”
Shopper Jim Dillon adds, “I think that kids should eat real food anyway, not the processed stuff.”