Consumer Reports (CR) issued the call to the US Department of Agriculture to remove Lunchable meals from the national program following a report released on Tuesday, April 9.

As part of the report, the organization tested store-bought Lunchable food kits and compared the nutritional profiles of these meals to the two school-only Lunchables, which were introduced in March 2023.

The new Lunchable options for schools – “Turkey and Cheddar Cracker Snackers” and “Extra Cheesy Pizza” – were fortified with whole grains and additional protein compared to their store-bought counterparts and as such, are eligible to be distributed to students as part of the National School Lunch Program

However, store-bought Lunchable kits were found by Consumer Reports to contain lead, cadmium, or both, which can cause developmental problems in children over time.

Five of the 12 kits tested by CR would expose someone to 50 percent or more of California’s maximum allowable level for lead or cadmium, which is currently the most protective standard.

These findings were consistent in similar snack kits by brands such as Good & Gather, Oscar Mayer, Greenfield Natural Meat Co., and Armour LunchMakers.

In addition, all Lunchable varieties except the “Extra Cheesy Pizza” contained at least one type of phthalate. Phthalates, which are a group of chemicals used to make plastic more durable, are compounds that may disrupt, mimic, or interfere with hormones in the body.

Exposure to phthalates, CR said, can contribute to an increased risk of reproductive problems, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

CR also compared the nutritional profiles of store-bought Lunchables to the newer, school-only kits, and found that the latter had an even higher sodium content than its store-bought counterpart, ranging from 460 to 740 milligrams per serving (nearly a quarter to a half of a child’s daily recommended limit).

In a petition that already has over 15,000 signatures, CR urged the USDA to remove the two Lunchable products from its school lunch program, which reaches nearly 30 million children.

“We think our kids deserve better choices.”

Kraft Heinz, the company that owns Lunchables, has yet to release a statement regarding the findings, nor has the USDA.

To see the Consumer Reports petition, click here. 

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