Whole Grain Wheat Thins Are No Healthier Than Regular Ones

Here’s a perfect example of why you should ignore what’s on the front of a product package and go straight to the nutritional info instead. Kraft’s Wheat Thins now come in a “100% Whole Grain” variety, which you might think translates into more fiber for your digestive tract. It even says on the front that one serving packs 22g of whole grain versus 11g for regular Wheat Thins. It turns out, however, that both crackers provide the same amount of dietary fiber and fat–and the whole grain version also has more sodium and is made with high fructose corn syrup.

Lisa at Snack Girl wants to know what the point is of the packaging if it doesn’t actually offer any worthwhile nutritional improvement. Maybe it’s just for people who really like the taste of whole grain?

Shouldn’t an increase of 10 grams of whole grain per serving do SOMETHING to the fiber content?

Also, why is there high fructose corn syrup and more sodium in the 100% Whole Grain versus the Original?



080410-003-wheat-thins-nutrition-panels.jpg



She says she asked Kraft for an explanation and was told it would take the company 7 to 10 days to investigate.

Update: Kraft responded to Lisa and said they’re rolling out a new recipe eventually (which is what the Chicago Tribune also reported).

“When 100% Whole Grain Means Nothing” [Snack Girl]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. TuxthePenguin says:

    How does 1 + 3 + 1 = 6?

    Check out the Total Fat breakdown on the Whole Wheat box…

    • Billy says:

      Rounding.

    • ahecht says:

      The miracle of rounding! 1.3 + 3.4 + 1.3 = 6.0

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Easy. The “missing” fat is simply fat that doesn’t fit into the categories listed. You could call it “normal” fat or perhaps “non-special” fat. Whatever.

      This isn’t atypical, it’s quite common. The breakdown of fat is only to show the types of “bad” fat, like saturated and trans-fat.

      • Ben says:

        And there’s probably some trans fat that they don’t have to tell you about because it’s below 1 gram.

    • Limewater says:

      If I had to guess, I would say it’s a rounding issue. They’re only reporting grams of fat to the nearest gram. Perhaps the 1 + 3 + 1 = 6 is actually more like 1.3 + 3.2 + 1.2 = 5.7.

    • jedman says:

      Most likely, those are rounded figures which, when added together, round up to 6. (i.e., say 1.2+1.2+3.2=5.6).

      As for the high fructose corn syrup, my guess is that the use of ONLY “whole grain wheat flour” is more expensive, so they used the HFCS in order to save money.

    • cybrczch says:

      The Whole Wheat crackers have soy lecithin added which counts toward the fat content but doesn’t fall in the saturated/trans fat/unsaturated categories.

  2. KhaiJB says:

    seeing the mentioned adding mistake..

    maybe the whole list is wrong?

  3. qbubbles says:

    They both use 100% whole grain wheat flour… it says so on the box. Does one cost more than the other?

    • justagigilo85 says:

      Yes. Keep in mind that although ingredients in the panel are listed in descending order, they don’t have to disclose exactly how much is used.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      The older version has “Unbleached Enriched Flour” (i.e. NOT whole wheat) as the second ingredient.

    • Kavatar says:

      “100%” means all the flour used is whole grain wheat. The regular ones use a combination of that and enriched flour which is not whole grain.

  4. UnicornMaster says:

    More salt and fat? No gain in fiber. Added Soy? It’s obvious they’ve done some tinkering to make the 100% whole wheat more palatable. But there’s just as much crap and preservatives in both. Doesn’t sound healthy to me.

    • domcolosi says:

      I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s only one preservative, BHT, and it’s in the packaging, not the crackers. In fact, the rest of the ingredients seem pretty normal to me. Did you even read through the list?

      The only ones that might seem odd would be soy lecithin (which is a “glue” to make a less crumbly cracker, used instead of egg), and tumeric oleoresin, which is a vegetable fat used to add flavor and brown color.

      Do you understand what constitutes “crap and preservatives”? These are all really common, normal ingredients.

      • brianary says:

        How about HFCS? I’d certainly consider that crap.

      • UnicornMaster says:

        Yes, crap is thing that are extracted and man made in order to produce a result, like “glue”, or “sugar” HFCS or Monoglycerides instead of butter. Why does it need a color, shouldn’t it already be yellowish brown? Just because they’re “normal” industrial ingredients doesn’t make it good for you or normal.

        If you were to make these at home, would you use those ingredients?

  5. infamousjre says:

    well, the fact that the whole grain version has 11g more whole grain makes this debatable because complex carbohydrates provide longer lasting and more efficient energy than the simple carbs of the “enriched flour”

    • Anonymously says:

      I would think that the carbohydrates do not change between white and whole wheat flour. Rather, the vitamins and fiber are the biggest difference.

      I’m probably wrong though.

  6. sirwired says:

    Huh… so where did all the fiber in the extra 11g of Whole Wheat go? Did they use a variety with a larger seed, meaning the bran:endosperm ratio dropped?

  7. evnmorlo says:

    You can hardly expect them to improve the quality. Reducing the number of ingredients and using high-fructose corn syrup probably keeps their cost the same or even lowers it while scoring them some healthy advertising points. Laboratory tests showed that “100% whole grain” gets people to push the level no matter what else is added.

  8. MustWarnOthers says:

    If anyone really expects monstrous corporations like Kraft foods to be truly fighting the good fight, as far as it pertains to providing healthier versions of their already massively over processed foods, then they’re probably not the type of consumers who really care/want to eat healthier.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Want a wheat thin, but don’t want HFCS, soy glue, or whatever else might be in there? Try: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/02/05/finer-things-friday-homemade-cracker-recipe-at-long-last/

      I like doing at-home versions because I can tinker. Often, I find I can play with reducing key ingredients (like butter or sugar) enough to cut some calories but not impact flavor or texture too much. Plus, now when I want a Parmesan cracker, I can use real cheese and not chemicals that always seem to burn my tongue (anyone else get that? Most flavor powders burn like hell, I can’t do extra-flavor anything or my tongue will be unable to taste for a day or two).

  9. QquegChristian says:

    You should really do a side by side comparison of all Cool Whip varieties. Maybe I will buy and photograph for you, but here’s the deal

    Cool Whip, Cool Whip Lite, Cool Whip Free, and Cool Whip Sugar Free all contain virtually the same ingredients. Water, corn syrup, and hydrogenated oil are the main ingredients of ALL varieties. Even the sugar free is made of whipped oil and CORN SYRUP. By claiming a ridiculous amount of servings per tub, all varieties look low calorie.

    I wrote Kraft a letter asking to explain this and they said that they use a “low sugar” corn syrup in the sugar free variety. What i think they mean is that it is not “high-fructose” corn syrup, but it is still corn syrup and “low sugar” is not “sugar free” especially when most people can eat an entire tub without thinking. 32 servings in a tub that weighs only a few ounces?

    • cybrczch says:

      Glad I stopped eating that long ago.

    • webweazel says:

      “made of whipped oil and CORN SYRUP”

      Ah. I was wondering why, whenever I tasted that stuff it was like eating sweetened LARD, making my mouth feel slimy for hours afterward. Might as well stir up some shortening & sugar, and scoop it into my mouth. GACK.

  10. dulcinea47 says:

    How come the original box says 2g of fiber is 8%, and the whole grain box says 2g of fiber is 9%?

  11. Raanne says:

    “Shouldn’t an increase of 10 grams of whole grain per serving do SOMETHING to the fiber content?”

    um, it did.

    1 less g of total carbs but the same amount of dietary fiber.

    seeing as whole wheat was the number one ingredient before, the amount that they have to switch out is probably low enough that percentage wise it didn’t make a huge difference.

  12. KJR52 says:

    Also, how is it that 2g of fiber in the regular version is 8% of the DV, while 2g of fiber in the Whole Grain version is 9%?

  13. Snack Girl says:

    Just to be clear – Original is made with a mixture of whole wheat and wheat flour and 100% Whole grain is made with only whole wheat flour. So, the SOMETHING I was looking for was an increase in fiber of about 2 grams per serving.

  14. smo0 says:

    Good god… HFCS is in everything…. (I know I’m stating the obvious these days but … it’s slapping you in the face right here!)

  15. Fuzz says:

    I noticed this with Veggie thins the other day. The whole wheat ones have 20 more calories, and twice the fat 5g, compared to 2.5g.

    I found it very odd.

  16. psm321 says:

    From all the people here confused about math inconsistencies, it seems that Consumerist really ought to run an article about FDA rounding rules. (It’s really ridiculous… something can have 0.4g of fat per serving, have a ridiculously low serving size, and be marketed as “fat free” with 0g/0% fat). Sorry, but while rounding makes sense in some cases, when you’re close to 0 you shouldn’t be allowed to round to 0 unless you’re really really close

    • Rena says:

      At least, “fat-free” should mean “zero”, not “nearly zero”. To be realistic though, I don’t think 0.4% is going to make much difference.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Using Cool Whip, if we pretend that the Cool Whip Free is rounding fat from .4g/serving down to 0g/serving as the FDA allows, then consider that the tub has 32 servings in it… your “Fat Free” whip actually contains over 12g of fat. Most people eat way more than a serving each sitting and probably consume it more often than would be “recommended”. Then, take other foods that do this and suddenly that .4g will balloon to an unknown amount of fat that is completely off the radar of even people trying to pay attention. This is true with all nutrition info, those bits are rounded off like you’re not still consuming them. Reminds me of high school when I had a teacher who acted like her class was the only one with homework. That extra paper wouldn’t be much if I didn’t have 7 other classes increasing the workload, too. Food is no different. .4g nothing if you eat one serving of one item that does it. When they all do it, good luck.

  17. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    I try to eat only whole grains when I eat grain products – brown rice instead of white rice, 100% whole wheat bread, etc, but you really have to look at all of the nutritional information to make sure you’re not getting somthing that is crap, like this is.

  18. julia says:

    Just so you all know Wheat Thins (original) used to have HFCS. I choose not to eat it and I went WT less for years. I was very excited when I heard they took it out, and now read the lable of ever box of WTs I buy just to make sure I’m not getting an old batch.

    I would assume that the HFCS is still in the other of varities of WTs.

  19. COBBCITY says:

    I personally have grown tired of 111 versions of every product. Oreo, Wheat Thins, etc. Who the heck needs 14 types of Tide?

    • brianary says:

      But Cool Ranch Tide is the *creamiest*!

    • sirwired says:

      The more varieties/sizes that are available, the more shelf space they take up. The more shelf space taken up, the less space available for the competition.

  20. kjherron says:

    Judging from google, whole wheat flour is about 9% fiber, and refined white flour some fiber in it as well. Replacing ~11g of white flour with whole wheat flour ends up adding a fraction of a gram of fiber.

    Going from the %dv numbers, the original crackers have 2g of fiber and the whole wheat crackers have 2.25g. Both values get rounded down to 2g because the labeling law requires the numbers to be rounded.

  21. nbs2 says:

    6 is a bigger number than 5. How is the fat content the same?

    Nevertheless, that’s just one more reason to get around to making my own at home.

  22. icntdrv says:

    Ive looked at the wheat thins labels before. Beware: the “low fat” wheat thins are lower in polyunsaturated fat (good-ish fat) and have just as mush saturated fat (bad fat)

  23. KrispyKrink says:

    Speaking of Wheat Thins….

    When the hell did they change them to be so disgustingly sweet? Last time I enjoyed these was in the very early 90′s and haven’t touched them until last week. A friend of mine had some so I tried one and it tasted like it was pure sugar. Nasty!

  24. maztec says:

    Sure, based on the raw FDA nutrition label these are roughly equivalent. However, whole grain is still better for you. Thus, they are either at least equal if not better.

  25. somepoet says:

    I noticed something similar at the grocery store today. The caramel popcorn you make yourself in the microwave had less fat than the “natural” popcorn and the same calories.