Product Liability

While the rest of my fellow Midwesterners are grousing and grumbling about latest snow fall—which had the audacity to arrive just was we were all seeing—or imagining—the first blushes of spring, I’m going to complain about a matter of far greater importance. And that is the unnecessary and wholly unwelcome change in the formulation of The Greek Gods Traditional Plain Greek Yogurt.

My intent is not to mock or to minimize the plight of those who are tired of shoveling while struggling to scrape together the last precious bits of rock salt like a character in a Dickens novel sweeping together the last grains of rice in hopes of warding off starvation. Rather, my goal is to express my dissatisfaction with a company that, without consulting me, altered the formula of a product that was already perfect in every way and, in the process, managed to alter the course of my breakfast for the rest of my life. If it happens to annoy some of the souls who follow this blog, then so be it; if it happens to entertain some of them, so much the better.

I used to enjoy a half cup of this product for breakfast as part of a ketogenic diet that I follow for the purpose of weight management and diabetes prevention. Without getting too technical, let me state that the key to ketogenesis is the consumption of healthy fats in an amount that exceeds the combined total number of grams of protein and carbohydrate.

Until the makers of The Greek Gods Traditional Plain Yogurt changed the formula, it contained 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 5 grams of carbohydrates per half cup. Since the fat content exceeded the combined total of the protein and carbohydrate, the product was ideal as a component of my breakfast, which included unsweetened flake coconut, and an assortment of nuts.

The new formula has only 7 grams of fat per half cup. This would have been bad enough if the protein and carbohydrate had stayed the same. However, there are now 7.5 grams of carbohydrate, which along with the 4 grams of protein, add up to a total of 11.5 grams, which now exceeds the amount of fat in the product.

If that isn’t bad enough, the new version came out in a cleverly redesigned carton that boasted “New Look—Same Great Taste” but conveniently failed to mention the fact that it now contained fifty percent more sugar. For shame, Greek Gods Traditional Greek Yogurt. For shame.

Unfortunately the carton was already on my counter before I noticed the change to the nutritional information or it would have been left on a shelf—as far from a refrigerator as possible. Upon noting the change, however, I immediately took it upon myself to complain to manager of the health foods section of my grocery store, and to the regional manager of the Greek Gods brand of products, who happened to be there when I paid my visit. I also voiced my displeasure by phone to the company, and by email to the person responsible for changing the formula who had the misfortune of being asked by the regional manager to explain their decision. None of which made any difference, of course. But I felt better having given each one of these folks a piece of my mind.

As I told all of them, at a time when other companies are taking OUT the sugar in their products, it is likely a mistake to put more IN. Although they say they haven’t added sugar to their product—that the increase in the sugar content is merely a consequence of their having reduced the amount of fat—that doesn’t help those of us who relied on this product, which heretofore was the only one available locally that met the needs of people on this diet. I guess they’d better hope their slick packaging did its job and kept their other customers from noticing the change or they will soon find themselves with no customers at all.

Still, this isn’t the first time such a tragedy has befallen me. The giant version of the antibacterial wipes known as Wet Ones—which are made by Playtex, and which I routinely used to clean my hands after pushing a shopping cart—was recently taken off the market. Now I have to choose between the smaller convenience pack that really isn’t convenient at all, and those that come in a plastic tub which doesn’t fit in the side pocket of my driver’s side door. Deep down I know it’s just a wet wipe, but sometimes after a visit to Wal-Mart I find myself asking, “Why me, Playtex? Why me?”

The latest company to disappointment me was the manufacturer of Feline Pine cat litter, which changed their formula to include baking soda. I’m not sure what motivated the change since it already did a great job of controlling odor—which is why we used it in our multi-cat household in the first place. To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what they put in it as long as it costs the same and still does the job. But as Vlad the Impaler is arrestingly sensitive to changes in the size, shape, location, color, and smell of his littler box and, as a matter of course, needs little motivation to do his business elsewhere, I have a keen interest in keeping the litter room and everything in it free of any and all unnecessary changes.

So Feline Pine, beware: If I start finding spots on my rugs, you will be hearing from me.