Sara Lee "Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White Bread" Has More Water Than Whole Grain

The CPSI has announced its intention to sue Sara Lee over its “Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White Bread,” which claims to combine “all the taste and texture of white bread with the goodness of whole grain,” when actually “there is more water in this product than whole grain,” according to the CSPI.

Sara Lee has apparently been engaging in a “public education” program promoting their actual “whole grain” breads and chiding other brands such as Nature’s Own and Pepperidge Farm for producing sub-standard bread, while lamenting the “confusion” consumers are experiencing over the tyranny of bread choices they must face each and every day.

From Sara Lee’s “Bread Rules” site under the heading “Confusion in the Bread Aisle” (emphasis theirs):

More than 73 percent of consumers surveyed who eat enriched wheat bread incorrectly believe that their wheat bread is 100 percent whole wheat.

Sort of makes you wonder how many consumers incorrectly believe their “white bread made with whole grain” is 100% whole wheat…

From the CSPI’s letter to Sara Lee (emphasis ours):

In its review of Sara Lee’s marketing practices this year, CSPI discovered that Sara Lee used at least two different labels for Whole Grain White Bread.On the June label, Sara Lee makes the preposterous statement that “Sara Lee Soft & Smooth™ Made with Whole Grain White [Bread] = 100% Whole Wheat.”

Whoops. Who knew bread was this complicated?

We may start our own brand of bread called “White Bread For People Who Hate Whole Wheat Bread And Like Lying To Themselves That White Bread Is Healthy.” Think it’ll sell?

Sara Lee Accused of Whole Grain Whitewash [CSPI]
Bread Rules [Sara Lee]
Whole-Grain-o-Meter [Sara Lee]


Edit Your Comment

  1. misstic says:

    I’m more concerned about the high fructose corn syrup often listed in the top four ingredients. ;)

  2. Slothrob says:

    But is it pork-flavored water?

  3. Bladefist says:

    @misstic: esp when the other 3 of the 4 end in “ose”

  4. misstic says:

    @Bladefist: exactly! :)

  5. pda_tech_guy says:

    shhh just dont tell my wife (i like white bread, she likes whole grain, so we decided to go with this bread) hehehehehe

  6. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    I’d like to start a brand called “FunBread” that’s actually large, flat marshmallows: “For People Who Aren’t Kidding Themselves”.

  7. UpsetPanda says:

    I haaaaaaate white bread, and I only eat whole grain bread with a certain grams of fiber. We eat bread nearly every day, so we go through a lot of it. If it looks flimsy, it probably is. Real bread is hearty, looks like it is heavy enough to be used as a weapon.

  8. SaveMeJeebus says:

    @CaffeinatedSquint: Nothing worse than making a PB&J to find that the bread has become completely flattened from prudent spreading of PB and J.

  9. Kavatar says:

    I don’t know why people would even bother with the fake whole grain white bread. The Sara Lee 100% whole wheat tastes great already, and I usually hate whole wheat bread.

  10. HRHKingFriday says:

    I despise whole wheat bread. Not just the taste and over abundance of texture (wtf, seeds in my bread??) but also the fact that they put a lot more sugar (calories) in wheat bread to make it palatable. Unless you’re talking natural wheat bread which is pretty much vomit in a bag.

  11. scatyb says:

    It’s all about the gluten.

  12. ancientsociety says:

    @King of the Wild Frontier: Large flat marshmallows? I’d like to buy 4 cases please.

  13. amed01 says:

    I agree…the real hearty breads have grains large enough to put out an eye! Good stuff :)

  14. lemur says:

    @HRHKingFriday: It is quite possible to find whole wheat bread that is not overloaded with calories. You need to inspect the labels. My wife and I regularly buy whole wheat bread at 40-50 calories a slice and yes the slices are a normal size.

    As for taste… well it is literally a matter of taste. I used to hate whole grain. Now I like it.

  15. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    But is it soft, smooth water or hard water?

    Cause if it’s hard water, then I’m really ticked off.

  16. csdiego says:

    Wait a second now. The name of the bread is “Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White Bread”. Weaselly, sure, but not technically a lie. It’s too bad some people are fooling themselves that if their “wheat” bread looks brown, then it must be healthy, when actually a lot of those breads don’t contain any fiber at all and often the brown color comes entirely from caramel coloring or high-fructose corn syrup. But it’s easy enough to check the nutrition label for grams of fiber per slice.

    And as for water, all bread doughs contain lots of water. Most of it evaporates in baking. So it means nothing to say there’s more water than whole grain in the bread. There’s probably more water than most other ingredients.

  17. iamme99 says:

    melts in your mouth :)

  18. MrEvil says:

    Actually they can make whole wheat white bread. You just have to use white winter wheat to make the flour. The Sarah Lee stuff is undoubtedly BS.

    I had a really good crop of white wheat seed last year and didn’t have enough place to plant all of it. I took some of the left-overs, ground it into flour with an old home mill, and gave it to one of my aunts whose much better at backing than I. Makes really good bread and cookies.

  19. swalve says:

    @csdiego: I’m not sure we’re allowed to make sense here anymore.

  20. new and troubling questions says:

    Isn’t there another brand that has something like this, Wonder maybe? A “white bread made with whole grains” kind of thing? Or am I just totally making that up…

  21. SOhp101 says:

    @misstic: I wholeheartedly agree.

    btw, isn’t bread almost 90% water already?

  22. mysticone says:

    From what I understand, they use a different type of wheat that’s been milled in a newer way. The flour comes out in a fine, uniform way, much like white flour. When they make the bread, it gives it a texture that’s more like white bread than whole wheat bread.

    My wife and I buy it all the time because it tastes and feels like white bread, but you get more fiber than white bread gives you.

  23. rlee says:

    ‘”White Bread For People Who Hate Whole Wheat Bread And Like Lying To Themselves That White Bread Is Healthy.” Think it’ll sell?’

    Hey, I’d buy it. I detest whole wheat bread, so I’ve tried a couple “Whole Grain White”s that were OK — Wonder, and Schmidt. On the other hand, Trader Joe’s’ offering was a major disappointment flavor-wise. I don’t think I’ve encountered the ones mentioned here.

  24. DrGirlfriend says:

    Listen, I don’t like to make grilled cheese sandwiches with whole wheat brad – it just isn’t the same. However, I also like the added health benefits that whole wheat provides. This bread, therefore was the PERFECT COMPROMISE. Until now, with all these killjoy articles meant to “inform” me as a “consumer”.

  25. Dustbunny says:

    So does this mean they can’t keep using their slogan “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee”??

  26. mysticone says:


    It’s still a good compromise. When compared to eating traditional white bed, you’ll still get the added benefits of some additional whole wheat.

  27. mysticone says:

    @Dustbunny: Of course! It just means that all those who don’t like their products are nobodies.

  28. dirtleg says:

    Dude, I heard that. My daughter and I like white bread buns for our burgers and (I know, worse than the bread) hot dogs. We don’t eat them often, but sometimes for a quick lunch on saturday afternoon. Anyway, my wife is a whole grains nut, no pun intended. So this was a handy compromise for us as well.

    Sure shot that one in the ass. I guess it’s whole wheat buns for us again.

    Damn you Sara Lee!!

  29. AD8BC says:

    I kind of like this bread. Plus, I really haven’t been drinking enough water lately.

    Guess I’ll go have a sandwich

  30. Major-General says:

    From what I read for the label, it may be deceptive, but not a lie. Made with whole grain white bread = 100% wheat bread only means that it does not contain another grain, say barley or rye.

    Sounds like the CSPI making fools of themselves for some free publicity.

  31. mysticone says:

    You know, upon further review, I really don’t see what the problem is. Unless I’m missing something, the only place where Sara Lee said that their bread contained 100% whole wheat was on the 100% whole wheat bread. All the other versions don’t say that at all. Or, is it that their 100% whole wheat bread, that actually says 100% whole wheat, isn’t? It seems that even on their own sites, they proclaim that their soft and smooth, non-100% whole wheat breads don’t contain 100%, but do contain more than traditional white breads. That would make them healthier than white bread, but not healthier than whole wheat.

    Anyway, I’ll still buy their products because I like them. This doesn’t seem to tell me anything about them that I didn’t already know from reading their labels.

  32. CyGuy says:

    This stems from a USDA rule change about a year ago that said bread companies could use the phrase “made with whole grains” on their labels provided all the components of whole grain (the kernel, the bran, and the germ) were used and that the amount of germ and bran at least equaled that found in whole grain. That allowed them to take apart the grain, process each part separately, then blend it all back together again.

    If you don’t have issues with processed foods, then it is probably a good thing as more people will be getting bran fibre, which is good for them. But in general, you are better off just picking bread by the number of grams of fibre, and not by the product name. Often varieties of bread that sound wholesome and full of grainy goodness have as little as 2 grams of fibre per slice. You’d need to eat half a loaf a day to meet your fibre requirements. I try to get a minimum of 5 grams per slice, and ideally get one with added flax seeds which in addition to the fibre boost also add Omega 3’s.

  33. swalve says:

    @Cy Guy: That’s interesting. Is fiber as useful if it’s ground up and processed?

  34. Sam says:

    @King of the Wild Frontier: I just make all my sandwiches with Moon Pies.

  35. punkrawka says:

    Umm… unless I’m missing something, CSPI would have to prove some kind of damages in order to have standing to sue. This case should be dismissed. Oh, and blowing an artery because you can’t handle the thought of people eating food that they like doesn’t count as “damages.”

  36. surgesilk says:

    Ummm this is bread we are talking about? Really? REALLY?

  37. OK, this must be a dumb question but I’m going to ask it anyway: Why does “more water” = “not whole wheat”? I don’t understand how there being more water in the bread proves they’re not using whole wheat.

  38. mobilene says:

    Jeez, the CSPI is like a cancer, creating ridiculous drama in the name of public health. Somebody needs to revoke their funding.

  39. kimsama says:

    @swalve: See, yeah — I thought the benefit was in the fact that it acts as a “colon broom” (hmm, that’s kinda gross, but…). So, if you break it down a tremendous amount, you’re just getting really small particles of stuff you can’t digest, instead of the “whole foods” approach of getting big chunks you can’t digest that clean you out.

    I’ll stick to fruits and veggies and real whole grains for my fiber needs, not some super-milled stuff. Though I agree that there is a time and place for white bread (dirtleg, try potato rolls and buns, those are tasty and I think they have a little more nutrient stuff in them).

  40. OnceWasCool says:

    Sara Lee’s management has gone downhill. Sara Lee own Colonial Brand bread here in North Georgia. For the past year, they have taken a quality bread and turned it into a total turd. In just a day or so it is stale on top and wet on the bottom.

  41. char says:

    Maybe we should just stop eating this processed overpriced crap excuse for nutrition to start with. Look around your community, I can almost guarantee you’ll find a baker making decent bread with real ingredients (Water, salt, yeast, maybe a bit of oil and egg).

    Good whole grain bread isn’t dry and gritty, it’s just as soft as white with much more flavor. next time you go to your supermarket, veer away from the mass produced crap, and see what their local bakey has. Hell, there’s a really good line of breads many supermarkets are starting to use out of LA. Good bread is everywhere nowadays.

    (Btw, I’m a total hypocrite, as I’m a sucker for a wonder bread and processed cheese grilled cheese). OTHER THAN THAT THOUGH :-p.

  42. Dervish says:

    Yeah, I’m not buying it. 100% WG just means that all of the flour in the bread is WG. The fact that it’s white whole wheat doesn’t automatically mean that it’s overprocessed crap – it just means that it’s milled from white wheat instead of red. It’s not bleached or missing its bran/germ, but the strain of wheat milled for this flour doesn’t have the tannins and other compounds normally present in red wheat.

    I’ll agree that the high water content kind of sucks, but much like the fact that the bread contains the dreaded HFCS, that’s what you get for buying commercial bread FORMULATED to be made in a plant, sit on the shelves for a week, and still turn a profit when sold. As mentioned right above me, if you want bread with just the basic ingredients then make it yourself or go to a small bakery.

  43. MNAlyssa says:

    The point of the suit is not that the bread is made with white whole wheat. The point is that 30% of the flour in the bread is white whole wheat flour and 70% is refined wheat flour. (Read the link.) Sara Lee made with whole grain white bread is not a 100% whole grain bread.

  44. DJ-Pandemic says:

    With all these food labeling changes, I’ve pretty much given up on supermarket bread. I grind my own flour and bake it myself. It’s the only way to be certain.