Moms, Rejoice: Target Is Seriously Stepping Up Their Kids' Food

Moms of Target, rejoice! The family friendly retail corporation has shown once again that it is dedicated to the kids. By removing artificial ingredients from store brand snacks, Target is changing its kids' food selection for the better. Parents who want to feed their children more natural foods without a medley of additives can shop at Target stores with more confidence, knowing that there will be a wider range of options to suit their needs.

The plan is to remove all artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, and colors— as well as any artificial trans fats and high fructose corn syrup — from Target-owned brands of kids' foods by 2018. An impressive 75 percent of the current store-brand offerings for tots are already free of such substances, but the coming changes will make the selection process even easier. Parents will no longer need to spend precious time trying to avoid the 25 percent or so of the products that were not up to par — and any move that simplifies the often-chaotic grocery shopping process for busy moms is a win in my book.

Examples of such Target-owned brands include Simply Balance and Market Pantry, with snacks like granola bars and mac-n-cheese. The move to further improve these offerings is a part of Target's corporate social responsibility efforts to provide families with healthier choices. Other aspects of the company's CSR include an increase in organic products and a move toward sustainable packaging for store-brand products.

Target is not alone in its quest to improve store-brand products. The popular German grocery chain ALDI removed certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and added MSG from its store-brand products, which make up an astounding 90 percent of its store inventories.

Another store popular among moms, Whole Foods, has long been vocal about keeping "unnatural ingredients" from tainting its shelves. The store's website has a long list of "unacceptable ingredients for food" that won't be found in the stores, which includes many of the substances that Target is doing away with.

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The decision to move towards "cleaner labels" makes good business sense for Target. Products with limited ingredients are all the rage right now. Experts warn, however, against assuming that these clean-labeled goods are intrinsically healthy. There may still be undesirable amounts of sugar and sodium in foods and drinks claiming to be clean, as well as other ingredients that fly under the radar. Just because your kid's fruit snacks are loaded with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, that doesn't mean they aren't still sweets.

I will choose to look at Target's recent initiative as a move towards progress rather than perfection. Even if I'm still flipping over applesauce containers to skim the ingredients, at least I will have a shorter list to look through (as if I needed another reason to head to Target).