I’m a peanut butter fan. But I learned a long time ago that, contrary to the slogan, if you like peanuts you’ll hate Skippy. The best peanut butter comes from places (including some Trader Joe’s stores) with a machine on site that grinds up peanuts. But “natural” peanut butter in the jar (chunky, of course) isn’t so bad, compared to the crap with hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt, and sugar.
Well, I just got back from my local Ralph’s, a reasonably high-end place for a chain supermarket and cheaper than Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck).
They had a special on Skippy Natural Super Chunk Peanut Butter, at $2.50/lb. compared to the usual price of $4/lb. for the crunchy-granola brands. That made me suspicious enough to look on the back, to find that the ingredients were:
ROASTED PEANUTS, SUGAR, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN AND RAPESEED) TO PREVENT SEPARATION, SALT
That’s as opposed to regular Skippy, which contains:
ROASTED PEANUTS, SUGAR, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN AND RAPESEED) TO PREVENT SEPARATION, SALT.
As far as I can figure out, the Skippy Natural has slightly more saturated fat per serving than regular Skippy.
So I guess it’s “natural” in the sense that it’s not supernatural, or in the sense that only a natural-born fool would believe that Unilever produces any food product that isn’t full of stuff that’s bad for you.
Is this a major public issue? Of course not. But shouldn’t this sort of low-grade consumer fraud be banned? I think so.
If it says “natural peanut butter,” it ought to contain nothing but peanuts and perhaps salt; if someone wants to sell the same thing with honey added, then let the label say “natural peanut butter with honey.”
It’s easy to make fun of French and European Union food specifications. But it’s possible to go too far in the other direction, and I think we have.
In the absence of regulation, an honestly run supermarket wouldn’t carry a dishonestly labeled product. I mentioned this to the manager at my Ralph’s, but of course he has about as much influence over the suits at Ralph’s corporate HQ as I do.