While scrolling through social media, readers may have come across posts from shocked parents claiming they found glass in their child’s Lunchable nacho cheese. Because Lunchables have as much as 84% of the market share in the category of combination lunches and have been a staple in children’s lunchboxes for over 30 years, this accusation may cause many parents concern.
While disturbing posts about glass in nacho cheese may garner attention, no FDA recalls have been administered. A search for credible support or a pattern turned up very little. This doesn’t mean glass or other items cannot end up in our food; these accidents can occur due to realities of food processing and preparation. Lunchables do pose a risk to children’s health, but in a less ghastly, more pervasive way than parents might expect.
A pediatrician in the 1990s famously called Kraft Lunchables, “a nutritional disaster.” In fact, most nutritionists and medical experts agree that the lack of fruits and vegetables, combined with highly processed foods including carcinogenic processed meat, lead to a meal that has little nutritional value. In fact, when consumed regularly, foods likely to be included in this popular snack can lead to significant health problems including obesity, cancer, and a lack of brain development. For example, the nacho cheese at the center of this controversy includes high levels of sodium, sugar, and preservatives. This is a health risk without the glass shards.
An additional worry about children consuming processed foods is that it creates unhealthy habits and cravings that last into adulthood. Scientific studies have concluded that the combination of salt, sugar, and fat in these foods can lead to unhealthy food cravings and addictions. These often lifelong habits contribute to chronic disease and nutritional deficiencies.
Lunchables have been a “go to” option because they offer both convenience for busy parents and fun creativity for kids. Most realistic experts wouldn’t recommend that a child never eat Lunchables or processed foods like them. Like most foods, they should be consumed in moderation. Healthy diets for both parents and children should center on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Parents can also create their own bento box style lunches for kids that include healthier options. These alternatives maintain the creativity and fun for kids. Of course, adults should check all processed foods for scary surprise ingredients. However, research shows that a more pressing risk for kids can be found in plain sight on the nutrition label.