The new year has got me thinking… and reflecting on something I haven’t shared with you yet that I have been meaning to talk about. One thing I wanted to do when I started this blog was to uncover information not easily accessible to the general public and open more people’s eyes to the hidden dangers behind food marketing and labeling.
In the last 6 months – three major companies Kashi (Kellogg), Frito Lay, and Naked (Pepsi Co) have all been faced with lawsuits exposing the “unnatural” ingredients in their “All Natural” food products. People are suing these BIG FOOD companies because they are fed up with misinformation, marketing lies, and for the potential to unknowingly ingest hazardous substances (chemicals, GMOs, etc) that the food companies cover up with the word “natural” on their labels.
You would think that this recent legal action against these food giants for not upholding the food contents and quality on their packaging would wake up other food companies that might be in similar situations. You’d think that the word “All Natural” would be dropping off labels left and right to avoid litigation and class action lawsuits. But, no, sadly it hasn’t. That’s because their false claims make them money. Big money.
It’s often cheaper and less expensive for a business to continue with the status quo vs. implement change. Only when something happens directly for them to mandate change, does big business start to listen. This is evident in the slew of banking regulations after the mortgage meltdown of 2008.
So what has to melt down for food companies to start unveiling the truth? It will be something even more important than the economy and our wallets – It will be our health.
With that said – I want to share with you an interesting situation I encountered late last year….
Last Spring, I wrote a post about the ingredients in the Frozen Yogurt places that are popping up all over the place. One of the places I mentioned was “Yoforia” brand of yogurt – because they place signs that say “Organic Tastes Better” all over their store windows. I became really upset after learning that one of my favorite flavors “Taro” was laden with additives, transfat and food coloring. They totally tricked me with their marketing and I was mad, to say the least. I knew their product wasn’t “certified organic” but I thought they would at least adhere to their marketing and claims on using natural ingredients. I was terribly wrong.
Since then, the ingredients which used to be on their website became missing with the Yoforia.com redesign. So I wondered – did they make a change to their products? Is it really organic now? I went on a hunt to find out…
The First Attempt – After not finding the ingredients anywhere on the Internet, I emailed them. I received no response for about 2 months. I also visited the store at the mall and asked if they had the ingredients – they did not.
Second Attempt – After not receiving a response, I was re-engaged if you will, after noticing a Yoforia was opening a couple blocks away from where I live. I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be fabulous if they cleaned up their yogurt and I would feel good about supporting them when I wanted a treat!” – So I called them this time, with a response basically saying they’ll be publishing the ingredients soon. I said, “ok – I’ll just have to wait….”
Third Attempt – After not seeing the ingredients listed on their site about a month later, frustrated, I walked into the Yoforia store by my house one day and asked if they could show me a list of ingredients in my favorite flavor – “Taro.” They said they couldn’t tell me. I asked why – and they said because the mix they use comes in powdered form in small ziploc bags and doesn’t have a label. Was I really hearing this? To prove their point, one of the employees brought out this bag to show me: (I blurred out his face, to protect his identity)
Wow – ok. This was obviously kinda weird. The manager begged me to go to the website to find the information I was looking for – I told him that I already tried this before, and even tried emailing and calling the headquarters.
Before I left, they did show me a package of the ingredients they used for their “non-tart” yogurt flavors. I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes – “hydrogenated” fats were included in the list. The manager wouldn’t let me take a picture, claiming that it was “confidential” information and was a “trade secret.”
How in the world can a company have the marketing “Organic Tastes Better” written all over their windows, in addition to saying this below on their website, and get away with including hydrogenated fats, which are clearly not natural nor organic?!!!
here at yoforia we believe…
- organic ingredients free of artificial flavors and colors create a healthier, better tasting yogurt experience
- the health of our environment is as important as our individual health
- if the thought of yoforia does not bring an instant smile to every customer, partner and employee, we are missing the point
Yoforia – yoforia yo∙for∙i∙a |yo̅ fôr′ē ə| noun. a healthy and delicious yogurt treat that sends your taste buds into a state of euphoria.
Yoforia is a new frozen yogurt concept that emphasizes natural and organic ingredients.
There’s no instant smile on my face. And there shouldn’t be on on your face either.
At this point – I was ready to write this post. But, for further investigation – I decided on one last attempt at emailing them. This what happened: (Note -I removed my personal info and left the publicly available Yoforia email addresses intact)
Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 3:24 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject – Help! – Need Ingredient List for all flavors
Hi – I am writing again to inquiry about whether or not I can get a list of all the ingredients in all flavors at Yoforia. I’ve visted multiple stores asking for this information and they do not carry it. One manager pointed me back to the website – I let him know it wasn’t on there and that I had contacted yoforia.com via email and phone several times before asking for this information. The person I talked to ensured me it would be updated soon. Now – it’s been 3 months – and I am still waiting for a listing of all ingredients in the flavors at Yoforia to either be posted on the website or available at the stores.
Unfortunately, not knowing what is your product is preventing me and my family from trying Yoforia. Such a shame – since we live right down the street from one of your new stores.
Could you please send me the list of ingredients if you have it? I am especially interested in Taro, Pistachio and the new Dark Chocolate flavor that has stevia in it.
Thank you kindly,
Response to First Email:
Patricia Morris Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM
Cc: Jarod Latch
Thank you for your inquiry requests. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I will tell you that I cannot give out a complte list of all of our ingredients as they are brand protected recipes; however, if you can let me know what specific ingredients’ you are looking for that, would help in getting you the information you need. For example: Gluten products, wheat, etc.
Hopefully we can get you the answers you need this way.
Thank you for your interest in Yoforia products.
My First Response
From: Vani Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2011 2:25 PM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Help! – Need Ingredient List for all flavors
Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 4:02 PM
To: Patricia Morris Cc: Jarod Latch
Do you use Blue Food Coloring in the TARO? What about Yellow or Blue coloring in the Pistachio?
In the non tart flavors or any flavors – is there anything that is hydrogenated?
Do you use anymore artificial ingredients in any of the flavors?
Thank you -
Sent from my iPhone
My Second Response:
Sat, Nov 12, 2011 at 9:41 AM
To: Patricia Morris Cc: Jarod Latch
It’s now been a week and half – were you able to confirm these ingredients below?
Thank you kindly,
My Third Response:
Sun, Nov 20, 2011 at 10:00 PM
To: Patricia Morris Cc: Jarod Latch
Checking in one more time – were you able to confirm the ingredients
in the TARO and Pistachio flavors?
Ok enough with the emails…
All I want to know is what I am ingesting. Is that so hard to ask? Apparentely it is. As you can see they have chosen to ignore me and did not provide the ingredients I inquired about. I am asking about a product that most people consider to be a healthy choice and didn’t expect to be confronted with so much resistance.
What does one have to do to get information about their food? The average person is certainly not going to go through this kind of effort to understand what they are eating – they are going to trust what the package and writing on the wall says. There should be a certain level of mutual trust between consumers and businesses, right?
We trust food companies with our business, our money and our body – the least they can do is provide us with accurate information about their products.
What do you think about all this?
What can we do as consumers in a situation like this?
Does Yoforia really believe that “Organic Tastes Better”, but that it doesn’t apply to the products they sell?
What are the chances of Yoforia addressing this? Do you think they will finally release the information I am looking for?
Could this be a potential class action lawsuit brewing aganist them for selling non-natural food products and claiming they are natural and organic?
I know one thing – I’ll get my euphoria another way…
P.S. Join my Facebook Fan Page for more ideas and discussion with nutrition minded folks!
***If you are reading this for the first time – Check out the Response from the CEO of Yoforia here…. ***