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The Ingredients In This Popular Snack Might Surprise You

I was shopping the other day minding my own business and I saw a product that I had to share with you right away. When I shop I like to look at ingredient lists, especially on old products I used to eat and buy. When I saw the ingredients for “Made with real fruit, 100% whole grain Fig Newtons” my jaw dropped open. These little suckers were a staple in my household growing up and made countless appearances in my lunch box as a child. I couldn’t believe how many toxic processed chemicals they contained!

What’s exactly in a Fig Newton?

Fig Newton

  • Whole Grain Wheat Flour – Don’t let the words “whole grain” fool you into believing it’s healthy. A serving of 2 bars only contains 3 grams of fiber, and much of that probably comes from the figs, not the whole grain.
  • Sugar – You’ll eat 13 grams of sugar (more than 3 teaspoons) in just 2 small fig newtons.  How many of us stop at just 2 cookies? 
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup – This chemically refined sugar has been shown to cause more weight gain than regular sugar.  Even when eaten in moderation, it’s said to be a major cause of heart disease, cancer, dementia and liver failure. Some high fructose corn syrup is even contaminated with mercury.
  • Soybean Oil – This cheap oil is high in omega 6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation raises your blood pressure, and can promote the growth of cancer cells.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil –  Cottonseed oil is to be avoided at all costs. Conventional cotton is loaded with deadly pesticides that don’t belong in our food because the cotton crop is regulated by the EPA as a textile crop – not food! This means they have a totally different set of toxic chemicals they can use on it. This oil also contains harmful trans fat because it is “partially hydrogenated”, even if the package says it doesn’t contain trans fat. This is because the FDA allows a “No Trans Fat” label when there is less than 1/2 gram per serving.  Since most of us don’t stop at just 2 cookies, we could easily eat several grams of trans fat in one small snack. Trans fats are not safe to eat at any level and the FDA is considering a ban.  
  • Sodium Benzoate – This preservative is only found in heavily processed foods. The Mayo Clinic found it may cause hyperactivity in kids and it’s dangerous when combined with vitamin C.  So, never give your child the toxic combination of Fig Newtons served with a side of orange juice.
  • Artificial VanillinThis flavoring is the fake version of vanilla extract – not to be confused with extract from the vanilla bean. This artificial flavor is made from the petrochemical precursor guaiacol, extracted from wood creosote, a greasy wood byproduct.
  • Genetically Modified Ingredients – These cookies are packed with ingredients that are known to be genetically modified (GMO). Their parent company, Mondelez International, contributed nearly $400K to block GMO labels in California and Washington state. The consumption of GMOs has been linked to health disorders, such as kidney and liver disorders and allergies. Even if you grew up eating Fig Newtons, GMOs were introduced to our food supply only 20 years ago and their use has skyrocketed in recent years. Mondelez admits they use GMOs in the United States, but not in other countries – how is that fair? These are the possible genetically modified ingredients:
      • Sugar
      • Corn Syrup
      • High Fructose Corn Syrup
      • Soybean Oil
      • Soluble Corn Fiber
      • Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil
      • Resistant Corn Maltodextrin
      • Soy Lecithin

What to eat instead of Fig Newtons?

Thankfully, there are several alternatives to Fig Newtons that are not only healthier but much tastier:

I just want to note, unfortunately, I can’t recommend “Newman’s Own Fig Newman’s” because they contain non-organic corn syrup and natural flavors. They do have a much better ingredient list than traditional Fig Newton’s – but I don’t want to eat or buy them because of this reason. I am pretty sure any version of fig newtons don’t have to contain corn syrup to be delicious!

If you know someone still buying and eating Fig Newtons, please share this post with them! Knowledge is power and when we share the truth, these product toxic ingredients will either change or be discontinued! 🙂 Let’s change the world!




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179 responses to “The Ingredients In This Popular Snack Might Surprise You

    1. Did you read the ingredient list on those Natures Bakery bars? Hello? Not cool!

      1. I am OK with the non-GMO part and wheat is still a part of my diet, if it’s organic and whole grain and I know the source.

        What else do you disapprove of. I’d really like to know your rationale. I’m always happy to learn.

    2. I’d say the two ingredients I’d still want to avoid in these are the canola oil and caramel coloring (I only looked at the whole wheat fig flavor). Food Babe has written a couple of articles on these ingredients as well

    3. Yeah I’d avoid canola like the plague even if it’s non-GMO. There’s a number of reasons but the main one is that it’s not only not needed to make a good product but there are better alternatives.

      I mean honestl what is rapeseed doing in your fruit-bar cookie? It’s like MSG in potato chips- even if you think it’s benign the fact is they aren’t any better than the ones with just little salt.

    4. Way too much sugar at 19grams (4 teaspoons) in one serving. Not sure about the glycerine. I would not eat them.

  1. Here’s nutritional info for the raspberry fig bars:


    1. That is a link to a file stored on your desktop, not on the internet… no one else can see it.

    2. So for the raspberry:
      Were do they source their rice from for the rice syrup? Arsenic is found in all rice(naturally and added through tainted soil), but depending on the region it came from, you should avoid it. Consumers reports did an article on it and california and india were the best.
      Canola Oil, Caramel Coloring, Natural Flavors, Modified food starch(it’s on my no list depends on the processing method of it) all have lots of info out there that you should avoid.
      Baking soda? Does it have aluminium or free of aluminium? You want it free of it..
      Sea Salt, is it just the bigger form of table salt which is horrible stuff? I only use celtic or himalayian sea salt.
      Naturally milled sugar? Because natural is on the package I would be calling to find out what they mean by natural as it is not defined by the USDA. So at face value it’s milled sugar.
      I would pass on these personally.

      1. Holy jesus… I don’t know how people can live this way… People will just believe anything they read if someone says “it’s not good for you”. You might as well never eat ANYTHING because you will never be completely free of any of this stuff. And you’ll find out 5 years from now that all of the stuff you HAVE been eating is “terrible” for you. Seriously you’re going to be THAT picky about what you eat?? I mean holy crap. You would have to grow and raise everything yourself, and make all of your own food from scratch, and EVEN THEN you can’t b sure you’re eating the right stuff. It’s just not worth it. Most of these ingredients that are supposedly bad for you are not at all bad. There’s plenty of things that in certain forms are fine, while in other forms can be dangerous. Or like you said about arsenic in rice – OK guess what everything likely has arsenic in it since it’s in most of the soil. But you would need a LOT of it to be anywhere near toxic. The tiny amounts are not even registered, and will likely be excreted. But hey, do what you want. Just don’t make it a pain in the ass for those of us who prefer to eat what tastes good and is convenient.

  2. You didn’t underline one of the main reasons I won’t eat them… wheat ! Gluten is horrific. It needs to be omitted from any healthy diet, permanently.

    1. Yep. Vani could save her eyes by not reading past the “whole grain wheat flour”. By the way, these companies use all caps because they are very hard for many people to read so they don’t read and just buy it anyway.

    2. People have been eating wheat for centuries. Only recently has it become a problem. I believe it’s what’s sprayed onto the wheat (or other products with roundup residue) that is the issue in our digestive system, or I’ve also heard that most store bought wheat is rancid and that is the real culprit for some. I buy organic wheat from a farmer and grind my own flour for bread baking. No problems here. YMMV.

      1. A few years ago, I learned about the dark side of wheat from the website link I am posting. In addition to the article I am directing you to, there are also numerous articles on this site about wheat, so I hope you will educate yourselves and not go on your own theories because there is scientific evidence and lots of it as to what wheat does to us. Besides this articles, two that I recommend are “The Dark Side of Wheat” and “Pandora’s Bread Box” at the GreenMedInfo site (be sure you read beyond page 1). This article shows how wheat is harmful to everyone and why. You can also read all the science behind the information these articles are based on.

      2. Hi Marie: For some reason I am unable to reply to your reply. I will follow your links, but I must also tell you that my parents both lived into their 90s and were raised eating wheat, butter, eggs, coffee, wine, cheese, etc.. I have a hard time believing wheat had anything to do with their deaths at 90 and 95. I am a LOT more concerned with what is sprayed onto the wheat or onto the field where the wheat is grown, which has only occurred in the last 20 years or so. My wheat comes from an organic wheat farmer, of an old heirloom variety, and I just made some wonderful pita breads with it. If you have wheat sensitivity, then of course, do not eat it or any of its gluten-containing relatives. For others, as the Bible says: enjoy in moderation.

        As for _Wheat Belly_ I have not read it, but I have read a rather scathing review of it. Alas, it’s the same with every controversy and we each have to be educated to our own body’s best health.

      3. Hi Marie:

        I followed the link to GreenMed and from there to the original research abstract. Unfortunately the entire study is not available unless someone has a membership, and it’s in reading the entire study that one can find out what really was studied and what was found.

        The abstract mentions taking samples of “sibling pairs” where one has celiac and one does not and finding both get the intestinal response. In the Green Med article it also mentions that that response could be a part of someone’s genetic make-up or biochemistry: “It is also possible that over and above the possibility of greater genetic susceptibility, most of the differences are from epigenetic factors that are influenced by the presence or absence of certain nutrients in the diet, bacterial strains within the gut flora, and environmental exposures, which include NSAID drugs like naproxen or aspirin which can profoundly increase intestinal permeability in the non-celiac, rendering them susceptible to gliadin’s potential for activating secondary adaptive immune responses. ”

        I find the sampling of sibling pairs (already from the same household, presumably raised in the same environment and having the same biochemistry of both parents) AND no mention of how many pairs they studied, to make this “study” insufficient science to base wheat consumption or non-consumption upon. However, if you have a poor reaction when consuming wheat then please do not eat it, get tested for celiac, or try an heirloom variety such as farro, or grind your own fresh wheat like I do, to avoid the possibility of rancidity.

      4. I totally agree that wheat is not the problem! It is all in how we grow it and mix it with a bunch of chemicals combined with other ingredients to say that it is wheat!! The big corporations that make almost all of the bread in stores (plus things like fig newtons by Nabisco) are made in huge factories!! How can we expect anything in the grocery store to be healthy! I plan to live a normal life full of chemicals with as much small farm food as I can.

    3. Avoiding gluten has become the one of the newest trends in health, I even tried it myself, but come to find out you don’t really gain anything from avoiding foods with gluten unless you have Celiac disease or a low toleration for gluten. In fact you may be missing out of certain nutrients that are good for you when you skip foods with gluten in them. (I can already hear a bunch of people getting outraged at this thought) Here is one of many articles talking about this exact thing. (I used WebMD because most people find it to be a reliable source). So, if you haven’t been tested and you are doing it to just make yourself feel like you are being healthier you might want to rethink your choices. ….. For those of you with Celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten embrace the lifestyle, but beware of some of the new gluten free products that almost every company has decided to start producing because they have other ingredients that may not be as friendly as you think. 😉 Happy eating! 🙂

      1. Personally, I don’t consider WebMD to be an authoritative source! I think you need to go beyond that site and find other, more credible sites like David Perlmutter, MD who wrote the book, “Brain Grain,” or William Davis, MD who wrote, “Wheat Belly.” I know people do not want to give up wheat because it tastes good, but tasting good doesn’t equate to doing good things for your body. This debate will rage on for generations because there are those who refuse to educate themselves and then make the determination to give something up that is causing them harm, whether they want to believe it or not, but the evidence is really hard to deny.

    4. Actually, no. Gluten is perfectly fine for those of us without Celiac disease. Of course, just like anything else, moderation is key.
      You can actually harm yourself by NOT having any gluten if you’re not allergic to it.

  3. To be somewhat fair, I highly doubt the Nabisco Fig Newtons of the 1970s – early 80s contained all those ingredients.

    And, what to eat instead of Fig Newtons? How about some actual fresh figs, maybe with a little wedge of smoked gouda? Why recommend other packaged, mass-produced “snack crap”?

  4. and I thought you use Fooducate religiously… how about Buycott?

    @Inquisative, what’s wrong with Nature’s Bakery?

  5. I Never buy anything at all thats brand name…so I dont have to worry much. We are 100% organic and dont make exceptions…EVER.

    1. Everyone hear this: “Natural” is a completely meaningless term. Many organic producers know that YOU don’t know that, and so they are cutting costs of being organic certified, by switching to “natural” production and labeling. This means nothing! It could be GMOs, pesticides, etc. Until we have GMO labeling country-wide, “Organic” is the only safe choice of eating clean foods.

      1. Natural means only ingredients derived from animals, plants, and possibly essential minerals (so no petroleum derivatives, like fake colors and flavors.) However, this also includes chemically identical man-made chemical compounds. So if they took Hydrogen and Oxygen and made water, for example, they could claim all natural, even though they made the water ingredient. So they can make chemically equivalent sugar and call it natural, for example, as long as the compound is the same.

      2. So, if I understand your reply below, it means that “natural” canned corn (rather than organic) could also be GMO corn full of pesticides, and/or grown with pesticides, correct? So in other words “natural” is a meaningless label when it comes to safe foods.

  6. BUYCOTT!!! BUYCOTT!!! Show them with your LACK of buying dollars. In Europe they do not put this garbage in. Why are we expected to sit dumb and keep supporting these fools. They obviously don’t care about us…MONSANTO, MONSANTO

  7. How can they even claim 100% whole grain when the corn and oats (which are also GRAINS) is just the fiber?! 100% whole WHEAT, sure. But not all the grains there are whole.

  8. Vani, what about the maltodextrin? I’m surprised you didn’t have a bullet for that horrible ingredient.

  9. Please comment on this question – something I’m confused about.

    I often hear that corn is genetically modified and to avoid it.
    Then I read that “sweet corn” is alright to eat. It even shows up on the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15”:

    Could you please explain the difference between “corn” and “sweet corn” in a way that would make sense to a food shopper?

    Thank you for your EXCELLENT work! I really appreciate it and the fact that you are brave enough to take on the huge, powerful chemical companies.

    Best regards,
    Nina Ramos

    1. Sweet corn is the stuff you eat canned or from the cob. It has been bred (not engineered) for many generations to be sweet and juicy. Modern “SuperSweet” varieties have exploited a trait which makes the starch turn into sugar as the corn ages (rather than the normal sugar to starch transformation). The corn used for high fructose corn syrup is dent or field corn, used for feed and processing. Corn was one of the first crops (after canola) to be genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, AKA Roundup Ready Corn by Monsanto. The genesis of the use of high fructose corn syrup in just about everything actually dates back to President Nixon, who determined that the best way to deal with a glut of corn on the market was to encourage more uses for it – rather than encouraging farmers to grow crops that were actually needed. So. The easiest way to eat non-GMO foods is to eat CERTIFIED Organic – not natural or any other claims. But be aware that even organic foods can be contaminated by GMOs, which is why both the Canadian and American governments have new laws which establish allowable contamination thresholds for GMOS in non-GMO foods, seeds or other products. And which is why most of Europe won’t buy food from North America. In addition, any product which uses corn derivatives will contain GMO corn.

      1. Thank you very much, Rebecca.
        This clears up a lot of confusion, and I appreciate learning of the political background.
        It’s not exactly good news, of course, but I’d rather know – than not know.

      2. Dwayne, your research is seriously flawed. I have been following GMOs since the first developments. First, sweet corn is NOT yet genetically modified – not deliberately at any rate, although rates of seed contamination and cross-breeding are very high, as with any wind-pollinated crop. Although you are clearly in favour of genetic engineering, you haven also clearly not even read the reports by the companies who engage in it, or you wouldn’t be making this claim.

        Genetic engineering is concerned solely with the production of crops which enable greater use of the herbicides and pesticides created by the same companies which do GE. There is not a single successful crop which has hit the market for any other reason. Golden rice is the only purported exception, and it is an utter failure, both agronomically and to perform its supposed role (to gain benefit from the added vitamins a person would have to eat more rice than physically possible). Given that we are seeing more and more weeds which are now resistant to those same herbicides, and pests resistant to pesticides, there is cause for concern simply from the agricultural/ecological perspective. These crops are proliferating, and the resistant traits are proliferating in the wild along with them, making the agrotoxins unusable. This is crap science, Dwayne, and anyone with any agricultural or scientific education would know that.

        Finally, industrial agriculture does create massive issues with food safety, whether the crops are genetically engineered or not. There have been many more food recalls for “conventional” food than for organic food. The latest here in Canada was from a major meat packing plant which caused illness and death to very large numbers of people.

        However, I suspect that you would prefer to take refuge in the propaganda of those who make billions of dollars from selling this crap, rather than the critiques of those who have to live, or die, with it.

      3. Have you ever visited with a farmer about your opinion on GMO? Notice how I say opinion because your research is seriously flawed. I am a farmer who grows GMO crops and would be happy to tell you from my perspective what the truth is.

  10. I’m so surprised you don’t have a “Share” button for Facebook in order to reach more people!, especially since you have one for Twitter, which many to not use (like myself).

  11. Several family members try to tell me that I shouldn’t be so vigilant about what my children eat. They say that since they raised my generation on the same foods and we are fine, I should relax.

    I know GMOs have drastically gone up since I was a child. Have you ever considered comparing ingredients of popular snack foods from the 1970s/80s to now? I’m betting it would be quite different.

  12. Yuck. I do not eat any storebought cookies. Except occasionally Newman’s Own. I am phasing out them also along w/ all processed foods. I could go for a dried fig about now, but don’t buy dried fruit often, but these cookies are gross to me. The baked pasteries from the pastery shop are more of a downfall for me.

  13. You put so much energy into what you write, etc. But why go back to the old un-knowing days? Maybe it will convince undecided people to learn more? I just start from now and here and go forward. I first choose ONLY ORGANIC. Then, I check for any less desirable ingredients such as choice of oils. Or not much fiber. I only shop at organic grocers or in the health section of the big nat’l stores. Sometimes they may even have lower prices than WFM on same organics. I just feel that the earlier processed foods that we grew up on, were such a mistake. Packaged foods were thought of as wonderful and happy. But it was just business and profit. I loved the 50’s but the food was so wrong. Today I buy Newman’s organic fig newtons, etc. Very good.

  14. Food Babe (and readers) — I wanted you to know that I sent this email to Mondelez International (aka Kraft) since you posted the web archive of them stating that the reason they don’t use GM ingredients in their European/other country’s products is “because Europeans/other countries have stated they do not want GM foods” so they do not use them in other countries. But they use GM ingredients here. Below is my email I sent them. There wasn’t a field for my contact information, so of course I won’t be getting a reply. But I did add your link and the ridiculous quote from their website.

    ***Hello. I was wondering why you guys state that consumers in America are not concerned with GM foods — and this is your reasoning for putting GM ingredients in your products in America and not in other countries (like European countries, etc.)? Was the public asked about GM foods and if they had a choice in consuming them would they choose non-GM foods? I don’t remember being asked that. I am specifically referring to this link (and, yes, I am aware that it is an “old link”, but it is your company’s belief that Americans are “not concerned with GM foods”):

    “While the scientific consensus is clear, consumers don’t always agree. For example, in the US most people are not concerned about GM foods or ingredients and so we use them in America. On the other hand, in Europe, we know the general public doesn’t want them and so we only use non-GM ingredients there.”

    It is quite clear that Americans do not want to consume GM products either. Hmmm… might this have something to do with labeling? I think you guys do not use GM ingredients in Europe because they require labels — unlike the United States!***

    1. Actually I’m quite happy to eat GM foods. There are no proven side effects. It’s just a form of breeding, which has been done for centuries.

  15. We came to the conclusion that my Grandson had a Red 40 allergy back in Dec 2010 at the age of three and a half. He was aggressive and acted like a Jekyll and Hyde. Then ten days after his fourth birthday he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Could there be any connection?

  16. The only thing going through my head is: “Wtf are you doing buying food that allows GMO foods in their ingredients?” At natural food stores across the country, you can find the raw, real ingredients in bars that are simpler and therefore more pure and true to what the picture on the label is trying to sell.

    My rule is: if you can’t maake it, don’t buy it
    (if you can’t find ingredients to make this product at home, don’t even buy it. I only buy stuff if it is too timely to make, but not impossible.)

    Or new idea: make your own food and then you can appreciate true ingredients a,d shop at markets that do to aka people not companies.

  17. I think Natures Bakery would be open to changing a few ingredients.If anyone can get a company to better there ingredient list it is You!

  18. How come nobody has yet mentioned that Figs are carnivorous plants? There’s semi-decomposed dead bugs in there!

  19. Barbara’s raspberry newtons have no added cane sugar so I let my kids have these as a treat sometimes

  20. i don’t understand , so sorry.

    this product not include whole grain?

    so, how did you know that this ingredient??

    normal persons believe that behind wrapping word.

    besides, i am not american

    always thank you , let me know about food knowledge.

  21. Thank goodness I found a link to this page on your twitter.

    Recently (yesterday) I decided my entire family (7 of us–5 boys, one MAN! (ME_), –and my wife) is going to start eating only things we can pronounce.


    Wifey is just gonna have to deal.

    She needs to lose some weight anyways, is there any good diet books you recommend for me to give her? All natural of course.

    Pretty sure I’m allergic to gluten because since breakfast yesterday no gluten and I FEEL PUMPED!

    I feel born again.

    Let me know about the diet books for my wife please.

  22. Dear Food Babe: THANK YOU ….I have a sensitivity to many of the preservatives and chemical additives in our foods today … they cause migraines. The red dye in anything, Twizzlers, red candy, red icing etc. that sort of thing. But recently, I like you saw the fig newtons in the grocery store and they brought back happy childhood memories. My dad loved these cookies. So I bought a package … not even bothering to read the ingredients because, well, after all, these were “Fig Newtons”. Oh boy…I had not any migraine symptoms for quite a long time … at least over a year maybe longer… but then after supper I decided to enjoy a couple of Fig Newtons with a cup of coffee … I may have had three. The next morning I woke up at 4:00 with a splitting headache on my right temple … and I was having the migraine symptoms ..flashing sparkies etc. I could not figure out what I had eaten… and then… aha!! The only thing out of the ordinary were the fig newtons. Then, and only then, did I get the package and read the ingredients…I was shocked!!! So I threw the rest of the package away. Darn!! I could not believe how they had destroyed this product. The soy, the artificial flavors (sometimes it’s code for MSG) and all the other stuff. Then I found your article … so it’s not only me. Thank you again … I knew better and should have checked the ingredients. Take nothing for granted!!

  23. hey you know that delicious strawberry icecream your probably eating right now.Well you basically eating Butt.The delectible strawberry flavoring is bever butt glands.YOUR EATING BEVER BUTT, PEOPLE.dont thank me if you never eat strawberry things again.

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