Saturday, August 13, 2005

Altering Alpha-Bits: Not as Simple as ABC

Cereal manufacturers have been tinkering with the tried and true formulas to make them more healthy. They say consumers are demanding it. But reducing sugar and using whole grains is not without its problems.

An August 11th article in the New York Times, "Altering Alpha-Bits: Not as Simple as ABC", explores some of these issues. Here are some key points:

Constructing healthy food is no easy task. Most modern foods are tightly engineered products that can fall apart when ingredients are taken out or added. Tinkering with the formula can alter the taste, the texture, the look and the way the food feels in your mouth, what food scientists call mouthfeel.

Consider what happened to Alpha-Bits this year when Kraft Foods decided to add more whole grains and remove all the sugar. Kraft's goal was to have a cereal that parents would not mind giving to children under 6 as finger food.

Unlike General Mills, which reformulated many of its cereals with 25 percent to 50 percent whole grains, Kraft was determined to make Alpha-Bits with 75 percent whole grains.

But raising the amount of whole oat flour made the product considerably bulkier than before, and the letters that came out of the machine, known as an extruder, looked a bit too chunky to be legible.

Additionally, the absence of a sugar coating caused the letters to break apart more easily. As a result, the new version of the cereal, which Kraft started selling this month, looks significantly different from the old version, which children have been eating for nearly four decades. The company says that its team of cereal scientists is working hard to resolve the product's "letter integrity" issues.

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1 comment:

ESRO2 said...

Fix the Alpha-Bits...Fix them NOW.

p.s. Bring back the FREAKIES before the damage cannot be undone.