Consumer Reports wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its National School Lunch Program to drop Lunchables.

The consumer-focused non-profit issued its call to the federal agency and started a petition on Tuesday, citing sodium and chemical levels that it said were found during comparisons and testing it conducted. The non-profit’s testing involved 12 prepackaged products from Lunchables and several other brands that it obtained from stores, according to a press release.

Grocery stores around the country sell a slew of different types of Lunchables made by Kraft Heinz. The food giant also makes two higher-protein Lunchables that are available through the National School Lunch Program, per Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports Director of Food Policy Brian Ronholm said the Lunchables and other products it tested “contain concerning levels of sodium and harmful chemicals that can lead to serious health problems over time.” The non-profit’s testing involved 12 prepackaged lunch kits from Lunchables and several other brands, according to a press release.

In the dozen store-bought lunch kits from Lunchables and other brands, Consumer Reports said testing suggested they featured “nearly a quarter to half of a child’s daily recommended limit for sodium.” A comparison of those and the nutrition of the school-geared Lunchables suggested the latter contained more than the ones available to consumers, according to the non-profit. 

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Testing among the 12 store-bought lunch kits from the various brands indicated they all had lead and/or cadmium, according to Consumer Reports. Phthalate was also present in 11 of them, it said.

“While none of the kits exceeded any federal limit, five of the 12 tested products would expose someone to 50 percent or more of California’s maximum allowable level for lead or cadmium,” the non-profit said.

Ronholm said the USDA “should remove Lunchables from the National School Lunch Program and ensure that kids in schools have healthier options.”

In a statement to FOX Business, a USDA spokesperson said the department “doesn’t allow or disallow individual food items.”


“Our requirements address the overall content of meals — some of them on a daily basis and others on a weekly basis,” the spokesperson added. “So, the Lunchables described in the article would need to be paired with fruit, vegetables and milk. In addition, a school who wanted to serve a higher sodium product one day has to balance that with lower sodium items on others.”

The USDA “takes very seriously” its responsibility regarding the nutritional quality of school meals, according to the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz told FOX Business that it “stand[s] by the quality and integrity that goes into making” Lunchables and that its products all “meet strict safety standards set by government agencies.” It called the Consumer Reports study “misleading.”


The company said all of its products “tested well below the acceptable limits” for heavy metals, adding, “The metals they focus on are naturally occurring, and thus low levels may be present in any food product. We do not add these elements to our products.”

Kraft Heinz also said its Lunchables for the National School Lunch Program follow USDA standards.

“We increased the amount of meat in the products to increase protein levels and help fuel kids throughout the day,” the company said. “With more meat comes naturally elevated levels of sodium to ensure safe preservation of the product.”

Lunchables have been around since the ’80s. The Kraft Heinz-owned brand has expanded over the years, with it now including things like “Dunkables” and grilled cheese.

The food giant was worth $44.67 billion on a market capitalization basis as of Wednesday afternoon.


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