Consumer groups, backed by the Congressional Black Caucus, yesterday declared all-out war on the "super doughnut."
Technically, "super doughnuts" are called "formulated grain-fruit products," but what they amount to is doughnuts, coffee cakes, creme-filled cakes, crackers and breakfast bars "fortfied" with vitamins and minerals.
They are being served to some participants in the Agriculture Department's school breakfast program as replacement for two school breakfast components, fruit or juice and bread or cereal.
A coalition of consumer groups and the black caucus want the "super doughnuts" removed immediately from school breakfast programs.
The Agriculture Department proposed banning the "super doughnuts" from the school program in August 1977, but it hasn't implemented that proposal yet, partially because of opposition from the companies who make the fortfied products.
"At present, we are using children as a captive audience to create and reinforce a market for brightly colored, cartoon-covered, plastic wrapped, creme-filled cakes with catchy names," said Kathleen D. Sheekey of the Consumer Federation of America at a news conference yesterday. "Eating a high-sugar, high-fat, dessert-like product for breakfast at school is not only unhealthy, it also teaches children that sweet desserts are acceptable breakfast foods."
Rep. Shirley Chisolm (D-N.Y.) charged that use of the dessert-like product was substituting "convenience" for "quality."
"The meals served in the breakfast programs are designed to educas well as feed children . . . If the food served to them during this meal is in the form of a sweet cake, how then are they expected to eat for the rest of the day or the rest of their lives? . . . Instead of giving large corporations huge federal contracts to fabricate foods for our children, why don't we pay a little extra in order to purchase fruits and grains so that we can keep our domestic farmers employed?"
But George Coch, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said several school directors from low-income urban areas such as the district, Chicago and Cleveland have asked that the products be kept on the menu. They argue that the products are cheaper, and that without them schools could not serve a healthy breakfast, since they don't have the facilities, Coch said.
Coch said he was puzzled by the Agriculture Department's proposed ban, since it had originally asked the companies to develop the product and since it is now spending $340,000 to study the nutritional value of the product.
He also pointed out that it was optional and that no school district was required to use it. Ordinary doughnuts are also an option for schools without facilities, he said.
Among the products being used are a creme-filled peanut butter cracker, Dandy Donut and Morning Break Bar made by Keebler, a Tasty Break Bar made by Tasty Bakers, Huzzah and a sugar and spice doughnut made by Morton and "super rich doughnut" made by Kohler.
The consumer groups argue that the schools without facilities could serve oranges, corn flakes or cheese and bread just as easily as the dessert-like products.
The food Research and Action Center said the products were a "let-them-eat-cake" approach to poor children's nutrition.