Shoppers be berry careful when buying blueberry products
November 30, 2012

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Blueberries are touted as a super health food. Manufacturers of prepared foods are looking to capitalize on it, plastering the berries all over their packaging. But Consumer Reports says just because it's blue on the outside doesn't necessarily mean it's blue on the inside.

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Fresh blueberries stacked in the produce aisle look luscious, and many shoppers are aware of their healthy reputation. And Dr. Orly Avitzur, Consumer Reports' medical adviser, says there is science to back up the claims.

"Studies suggest that eating berries, including blueberries, is associated with a reduction in blood pressure. Not only that, but it may help stop the growth of cancer cells and stave off memory loss," Dr. Avitzur said.

But if you think you're getting those benefits in packaged foods, think again.

"We found products that look like they're loaded with blueberries that are anything but," said Jamie Kopf with Consumer Reports.

For instance, this blueberry pancake mix from Krusteaz. There are no blueberries or fruit of any kind in a long list of ingredients.

"Keep an eye out for disclaimers like 'artificially flavored' and 'imitation blueberries,' which in this case are made of palm oil, cellulose gum, and several dyes. It's very important to check the list of ingredients," Kopf said.

And Kellogg's Blueberry Muffin Frosted Mini-Wheats? Blue on the outside, but the only blue thing in the cereal is a dye called "blue 2 lake."

A Kellogg's company spokesperson says, "The term 'Blueberry Muffin' is used to describe the flavor & and the product is labeled in compliance with laws and regulations."

"We found some products that prominently display blueberries have only blueberry juice in them, and that comes way down on the list of ingredients, behind sugar and corn syrup," Kopf said.

And Ocean Spray's Blueberry Craisins are not dried blueberries at all, but cranberries "infused" with blueberry juice.

As with most fruits and vegetables, Consumer Reports says it's best to eat blueberries before they, or their juice, end up in packaged products.

As we head into winter, and fresh fruit becomes harder to find, Consumer Reports says frozen berries can be a good substitute as they retain most of their vitamins.