THE BLOG

Food Corporations Lie Yet Again

08/31/2010 11:47 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Flip through just about any women's magazine and you will find Chef Tyler Florence's smiling face with a quote saying, "Delicious news: Wish Bone helps you absorb more of the vitamins in your salad..." The quote goes on to say that it's the nutritious oils in Wish Bone dressings that help the body better absorb antioxidants vitamins A and E from the salad.

But wait, is that an asterisk I see after that claim? Sure is.

At the bottom of the ad, well below Chef Florence's confident smirk is the following disclaimer (in the tiniest, illegible type possible to still be legal): "*Vs a salad without dressing. Wish-Bone Dressings contain up to 130 calories, 13 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fat and 340 mg of sodium per serving. The actual increase in absorption will vary depending on the amount and type of dressing used and the type of salad."

And the delicious news would be what, exactly? That another huge corporation wants to sell you swill in a salad dressing bottle and is willing to bend the truth to do it?

Wish-Bone knows America loves celebrity chefs. Celebrity chefs are respected and admired. Hell, we are rock stars. People listen to us and trust our advice about food. I know; I am one. With that respect comes a responsibility to tell people the truth, not spin it so another company can pull one over on the public again. I don't think we can be party to that kind of deception. It makes us no better than the talking heads on "Fox News" spinning the truth into fear and hate for the benefit of ratings.

Wish-Bone is trying to sell us the nonsense that their dressings are the reason that a salad is healthy for us; their nutritious oils, to quote them. Let's take a look at what Wish-Bone is really feeding us.

Their website qualifies their claim even more than their ads. It says that the absorption benefits only apply to salad dressings with 2 grams of fat or more and only to the dressings that make the claim on their package. Interesting...

Wish-Bone House Italian weighs in at 110 calories for a 2-tablespoon serving, along with 10 grams of fat and 2 grams of sugar. (And who eats only 2 tablespoons of dressing?) It seems all the dressings include sugar, salt, water, sodium benzoate, calcium disodium edta and/or sulphur dioxide to protect quality (that means preservatives, folks), caramel color, a variety of flavors, natural and not so much and soybean (likely GMO) and extra virgin olive oil.

There are references on the site to the science of bioavailability and how oil or fat is needed in order for the body to absorb fat soluble nutrients like vitamins A and C, our powerful antioxidant pals. All true, all good information, but not likely the cornerstone of Wish-Bone dressings.

Once again, a powerful corporate giant teams up with your friendly celeb chef up to sell you a bill of goods; dressings that take your salads from being a healthy choice to being one of the myriad reasons your waistline continues to expand. Leave it Wish-Bone to turn healthy foods sour.

They quote the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition as saying that the addition of full fat dressings promote the absorption lycopene, alpha and beta carotenes, all of which aid in protecting us from heart disease and some cancers. But then their products are loaded with ingredients not so great for health. So it's a big trade-off. Nutritious oils combined with not so nutritious preservatives, artificial flavors and sugar sort of compromise their nutritious claim pretty quickly.

But okay, you can argue that Wish-Bone just wants to sell dressing and their bottles don't boast the worst of ingredient lists out there, to be frank. But what's Tyler Florence's excuse?
A graduate of Johnson & Wales in South Carolina, he has worked in the food business for nearly 20 years as a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and "Food Network" star. He is regarded as, to quote his "Food Network" bio, "one of America's most important culinary voices. He is a father, family man and a nice guy."

So why sell out of the consumer? A savvy businessman, it would be tough to believe that this quote was used without his approval. It would be tough to believe, with his background and understanding of food, that he did not know the agenda here; that he did not know that Wish Bone was twisting the truth to serve their purpose and sell America more processed foods.

Want to create a salad that really helps the body absorb antioxidants more effectively? Make a classic vinaigrette of 4 parts extra virgin olive or avocado oil, 1 part lemon/lime juice or vinegar, sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. You'll create a delicious truly healthy salad; absorb all your fat-soluble nutrients. No sodium benzoate, calcium disodium edta, sulphur dioxide, caramel color or anything else less than natural to compromise your health.

Wish Wish-Bone adieu and make a healthy salad as Mother Nature intended, not as they and Tyler Florence want to sell you.