The Cornucopia Institute is outing some popular "healthy" Snack Bars in a new report and scorecard they released today (Dec. 12). The report outlines the quality variances between Health Food snack bar brands, even those claiming to be "made with organic ingredients."

Healthy snack bars are a huge multi-billion dollar industry in the US. Some bars, however, are full of substitutes which the institute labels "gimmicky," such as protein isolates (which artificially enhance protein levels in the bars) rather than using whole food ingredients.

Processed by a neurotoxin

Protein isolates, processed with hexane (a neurotoxin), may be found in products labeled “made with organic ingredients".

Linley Dixon, Ph.D., is Cornucopia's Senior Scientist. Dixon indicated that the USDA's organic standards have an intentional loophole. This ambiguity allows companies to artificially enhance the protein levels (in products claiming to be "made with organic ingredients") by including ingredients which are extracted using volatile solvents. This practice is specifically forbidden in products which are qualified to display the USDA Organic logo.

The report confirms how the USDA Certified Organic brands are the safer, higher quality choice.

The mass-marketed brands typically contain longer ingredient lists which include questionable or synthetic ingredients.

Competition is high in the snack bar industry and some companies feel the need to cut corners to keep pricing down. Only by purchasing bars which carry the USDA Organic seal can you ensure you are getting actual organic ingredients.

Bars with the best overall scores were those using truly organic ingredients. Those bars carrying the USDA Organic seal include only organic ingredients with no protein isolates, preservatives, added sugars, gums, flours, etc.

Brand confusion

Some brands offer both low and high-rated bars, making it confusing for consumers to determine quality based on brand name.

Companies specifically mentioned who produce both low and high rated bars were Clif Bar (an Emeryville, California company) and Lara Bar (produced by General Mills).

To help the consumer sort through all of the confusion, the Cornucopia Institute has created a mobile-friendly web-based tool (available on their website which lists the bars by name and gives them each a 1-5 bar rating, indicates their certified organic status, company name, and overall points score. With a link to a complete breakdown of the points score for each bar, the tool provides an easy way to evaluate a snack bar, even on-the-go.

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