Oscar Mayer’s “Lunchables” were first introduced to supermarkets in 1988, marketed primarily to working women who did not have time to prepare a traditional school lunch for their children. The product met with swift approval. Food & Drug Packaging magazine named Lunchables the “1989 Snack Food Package of the Year,” and it received an Edison Award in 1990 as one of the best new products of the year. At first the only options offered were lunch meat, cheese and either crackers or bread. However, the product soon expanded its options, including Lunchables Pizza, Lunchables Nachos, Lunchables with dessert, Lunchables with a drink, Lunchables with fruit, Lunchables with smoothie and many, many more. They even had a Taco Bell line. Very quickly the brand took over the backpacks of America. By 1998 Lunchables claimed almost 80 percent of the refrigerated-lunch category. Lunchables were a $450 million business.
Today, Lunchables have evolved. The packs of ready-made, transportable food now offers healthier options after years of criticism about the salt and sodium contents of Lunchables foods. In 2014 “Uploaded” Lunchables were launched, targeted at teens and offering larger portions and expanded food options. The brand has now reached over $1 billion in annual retail sales.
But Lunchables still do not escape criticism. The Uploaded Lunchables have been vilified for their extremely high sodium and saturated fat content as well as their inclusion of nitrates and controversial artificial colors and sweeteners. Lunchables have essentially no nutritional value. The quality of foods offered in the packs are dubious at best. Lunchables have also been linked to behavioral problems in children. Those controversial additives contained in Lunchables may negatively affect ADHD symptoms. The creator of Lunchables acknowledges such issues with his product and doesn’t feed them to his children. And now Lunchables has perhaps an even bigger problem.
More than 950 pounds of Lunchables have been recalled by the Kraft Heinz Company due to an allergy risk resulting from mislabeling. Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service:
“Kraft Heinz Company, a Fullerton, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 959 pounds of ready-to-eat “Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers” packaged lunch products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The product contains wheat and soy, known allergens, which are not declared on the product label.
“The ready-to-eat meat and cheese packaged lunch items were produced on September 21, 2016. The following products are subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF only)]
- 3.4-oz. boxes containing four-compartment plastic trays of “Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers,” with a “USE BY” date of 25 DEC 2016 and production times ranging from 9:13 to 10:00 stamped on the side of the plastic container.
“The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 537K” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Utah and California.
“The problem was discovered on October 6, 2016, when the firm received a consumer complaint. There were no illnesses associated with the complaint.
“The establishment determined that the “Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers” products were incorrectly labeled with the back label for a “Nacho Lunchable” product. The back label contains the product ingredient statements and as such, the “Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers” products that were mislabeled do not declare wheat and soy on the label.
“There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of this product. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.
“Consumers who have purchased this product are urged not to consume it. This product should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”
A couple things stand out from this statement. First, the recalled Lunchables were all produced on a single day, within a 47 minute time frame. Second, the recall is for 959 pounds of 3.4 ounce boxes. That means the recall involves approximately 4,513 individual Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers boxes. 4,513 Lunchables produced in 47 minutes. That’s about 96 Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers boxes per minute. Assuming a production schedule of 8 hours per day, that’s 46,080 Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers boxes produced every day. In a 5-day work week that is 230,400 Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers boxes every week. Over the course of a year, assuming this production schedule, that would be about 11,980,800 Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers boxes per year. Of course there are numerous types of Lunchables so this quantity must include those various kinds. In fact, there are 48 different kinds of Lunchables, according to the Lunchables website. Therefore, let’s say there are approximately 250,000 Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers boxes made each year. And distributed throughout the United States to a supermarket near you.
Wheat allergy can cause swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat, hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin, nasal congestion, headache, itchy/watery eyes, difficulty breathing, cramps, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea and anaphylaxis. Soy allergy symptoms include tingling in the mouth, hives, itching, eczema, swelling of lips, face, tongue and throat, or other body parts, wheezing, runny nose or breathing difficulty, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, skin redness (flushing) and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis. These symptoms are especially prevalent in children and are more likely to be severe in children. Lunchables are marketed to children.
In other words, Lunchables contain non-nutritional, unhealthy, poor quality foods which may cause behavioral problems and allergic reactions in children. Allergic reactions which can kill.
Lunchables are trying to kill you and your children.
Have a nice day.