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Ice Cream 'Isn't Health Food'

The healthy food watchdog that took all the fun out of Chinese take-out and movie popcorn has done it again, this time with summer's favored treat -- ice cream.

"Everyone knows that ice cream isn't a health food," the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an independent, nonprofit group, said in a study released on Wednesday.

"But the staggering calorie and saturated fat content of most of the treats served up at chains like Baskin-Robbins, Ben and Jerry's, Cold Stone Creamery, Friendly's, Haagen-Dazs and TCBY is bound to surprise most consumers."

The CSPI said an empty Ben & Jerry's chocolate-dipped waffle cone, designed to hold at least two scoops of ice cream, itself packs 320 calories and 10 grams or half a day's worth of saturated fat.

"If you put a regular scoop of Chunky Monkey ice cream in that cone, it is going to be worse for you than (a) one-pound rack of baby back ribs, with 820 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat," CSPI nutritionist Jayne Hurley told a news conference to publicize the study.

"This is something eaten by people strolling around a mall," she added. "They have no idea they have just eaten 820 calories and one and a half days worth of saturated fat."

Haagen-Dazs's Mint Chip Dazzler, a sundae in a cup, has three scoops of ice cream, fudge, cookies, sprinkles and cream -- and 1,270 calories, the group said.

Its 38 grams of fat is more more than the day's allowance as calculated by the U.S. government, which says the average American should eat between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day.

The CSPI called on restaurants and ice cream parlors to list the fat and calorie content of food on menus.


The CSPI's Michael Jacobson said the report supported his group's argument that restaurants carry at least some responsibility for the obesity epidemic in the United States.

More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight and 30 percent are obese, both of which raise the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other big killers.

"It is clear that companies are using every means that they can devise to get us to eat more and bigger products and therefore to spend more in their shops," Jacobsen said. "The least they can do, the least they must do, is provide customers with factual information."

Ben & Jerry's spokeswoman Chrystie Heimert said calorie and nutritional information is available online or in notebooks kept in stores, but it is hard to calculate how much each customer gets from a cone with various toppings.

"It would be tough to provide that information since it's a kind of scooper's choice," she said in a telephone interview. Asked if she knew that a chocolate-dip waffle cone contained 320 calories, she responded: "Well yes, but I may not be the right person to ask because I work for an ice cream company."

Jacobson said even food that is labeled contains hidden fat. "Cold Stone Creamery offers fat-free frozen yogurt, or so they would have you believe," Jacobson said. CSPI tests showed a small, 7 ounce serving contained 11 grams of fat and 7 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat.

"Ice cream is an indulgent dessert, and like any indulgence, is meant be enjoyed in moderation," Cold Stone Creamery spokesman Kevin Donnellan responded in a statement.

Baskin-Robbins is owned by British food and drink group Allied Domecq Plc, Anglo-Dutch group Unilever owns Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs is marketed by Swiss food giant Nestle .

In the past CSPI has put out reports publicizing the health-threatening qualities of other popular foods, including Chinese take-out meals, burgers and popcorn.

Reference Source 89


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