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The 'fat police' warn of pastry evils

Goodies tray

Consumer group expands list of food outcasts

June 5, 1996
Web posted at: 11:25 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Jeff Levine

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A consumer advocacy group famous for its revelations on the unhealthy aspects of many popular foods is sending up a red flag again by dissing pastries and other baked goods.

Hurley

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is warning the public of the unhealthy aspects of scones, cookies, muffins and cake in a study released Wednesday. The center already has criticized Chinese food, Mexican food and movie popcorn for their high fat content.

Jayne Hurley, a CSPI nutritionist, is afraid people do not realize that when they eat a cinnamon scone from the restaurant around the corner they may be ingesting as much fat as if they had pigged out on a pork chop dinner. (128K AIFF or WAV sound)

When the CSPI looked at 16 popular sweets sold at six upscale food retailers it found just that.

People who would rather ignore the bad news about their favorite sweets may be surprised to find that there are 240-270 calories in a Mrs. Field's cookie or up to 16 grams of fat -- the same as a McDonald's Quarter Pounder.

Sweet Treats

Cinnabon's Cinnamon roll tipped the scales at a whopping 34 grams of fat and 670 calories. The CSPI said a Cinnabon roll was equivalent to eating a Big Mac and a hot fudge sundae. In comparison, Starbucks' cinnamon scone weighed in with 26 grams of fat and 530 calories -- about the same as eating two pork chops and mashed potatoes with butter.

Cakes

Less unexpectedly, the Cheesecake Factory's cheesecake was overboard on fat at 49 grams, but is viewed by most people as a total splurge. And that is how most purveyors of these potentially heart-clogging treats see their products -- as occasional delights.

A Cinnabon representative said people who eat their rolls know it is an indulgence and not everyday food. The Cheesecake Factory boasted that its patrons want every calorie they pay for in terms of flavor and enjoyment.

Cinnamon bun

Mrs. Fields, on the other hand, did not feel the need to comment on the CSPI report's findings. Starbucks pleaded its case for fatty food by saying it caters to regional tastes. And Au Bon Pain representatives claimed that 40 percent of its products were low fat.

Indeed, all companies offer some low fat sweets. Au Bon Pain's low-fat Triple Berry Muffin got good marks for its four grams of fat and 260 calories, while Starbucks cholesterol-free Blueberry Scone still clocked in with one- third of the recommended daily level of saturated fats.

Counter sweets

Portions are a problem, the CSPI noted. Their experts recommend splitting cookies and scones with friends to help cut down on fat intake from coffee house delights.

The CSPI thinks if consumers only knew how much of a diet-buster many of their favorite sweets are, they might avoid them. If food retailers were more up front about their products' contents, people would have healthier decisions, the center says.

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