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Special K is a lightly toasted breakfast cereal manufactured by the Kellogg Company. The cereal was introduced to the United States in 1955. It is made primarily from rice and wheat. Special K is marketed primarily as a low-fat cereal that can be eaten to help one lose weight. The cereal frequently has give-away offers for various health and fitness products or contains dieting information on the back of the box. It is also generally targeted at adults, rather than children.
Special K Challenge
The Special K brand advocates the "Special K Challenge." The goal of this challenge is to help an individual lose six pounds in two weeks; this loss is achieved by eating specific Special K products throughout the day. The diet begins with a single serving of any Special K cereal, accompanied with 2/3 cup of skim milk and a side of fruit. The second meal of the diet may include either a Special K Protein Meal Bar, Special K Protein Shake, or another serving of Special K cereal with 2/3 cup of skim milk and a side of fruit. The third meal of the day may be consumed normally, without any Special K restrictions. Throughout the day an individual is allotted two Special K snacking times, eating any of the following specified snacks: Special K Protein Meal Bars, Special K Protein Shakes, Special K Breakfast Shakes, Special K Protein Granola Bars, Special K Crackers, Special K Cracker Chips, or Special K Popcorn. For any additional snack servings, an individual may consume fruits and vegetables. During the challenge, drinks may be consumed normally.
In the United States (US), Special K Original has 120 Cal per 31g cup serving. One serving contains 0.5g fat, 23g carbohydrates, 4g sugar, and 6g protein. In the United Kingdom (UK), Special K Original is 17% sugar, meaning a 30g serving contains 5g of sugar.
In the UK, an advertising campaign has focused on the results of a study run in collaboration with the Department of Human Sciences at Loughborough University, requiring overweight volunteer subjects to replace two meals a day with a bowl of the cereal.  The study found that "after 2 weeks, up to 75% of subjects had slimmer waists and hips." The university's scientists concluded that the majority of this was due to fat loss.
In the US, Special K currently comes in fourteen different varieties of Special K Cereal:
- Chocolatey Delight
- Chocolatey Strawberry
- Cinnamon Pecan
- Red Berries
- Vanilla Almond
- Fruit & Yogurt
- Brown Sugar Gluten Free
- Oats & Honey
- Low Fat Granola
- Chocolate Almond
- Cranberry Granola
- Cinnamon Crunch
In the UK & Ireland, Special K comes in ten different varieties of Special K Cereal:
- Red Berries
- Hazelnut & Almond
- Peach & Apricot
- Creamy Berry Crunch
- Bliss Chocolate & Strawberry
- Milk Chocolate
- Fruit & Nut
In the US, Special K provides meal replacements in two different forms, protein meal bars and protein shakes.
There are ten varieties of Special K Protein Meal Bars:
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Double Chocolate
- Chocolatey Chip
- Chocolate Caramel
- Honey Almond
- Mocha Crunch Protein
- Cranberry Walnut
- Chocolatey Brownie
- Chocolatey Dipped Mint
There are seven varieties of Special K Protein Shakes:
- Milk Chocolate
- French Vanilla
- Rich Chocolate
- Strawberry Banana
- Chocolate Mocha
- Vanilla Cappuccino
Kellogg's Special K snacks are marketed as low-fat alternatives to regular snacks. There are several varieties of Special K snacks, including Special K Protein Granola Bars, Special K Breakfast Shakes, Special K Cereal Bars, Special K CrackerChips, Special K Popcorn, and Special K Crackers.
There are four varieties of Special K Protein Granola Bars:
- Chocolatey Peanut Butter
- Dark Chocolate
- Greek Yogurt & Fruit
- Almond Honey Oat
There are five varieties of Special K Breakfast Shakes:
- Chocolate Mocha Coffee House
- Vanilla Cappuccino Coffee House
- Chocolate Delight
- Red Berries
- French Vanilla
There are two varieties of Special K Cereal Bars:
- Red Berries
- Chocolatey Pretzel
There are five varieties of Special K Cracker Chips:
- Sea Salt
- Sour Cream & Onion
- Salt & Vinegar
There are two varieties of Special K Popcorn:
- Kettle Corn
- White Cheddar
There is one variety of Special K Crackers:
Ingredients in Kellogg's Special K packages include: wheat bran, soy grits, rice, wheat gluten, soybean oil, soy protein isolate, whole grain wheat, contains 2% or less of sugar, salt, malt flavouring, sucralose, natural and artificial flavour, and BHT for freshness.
Vitamins and minerals include: vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha tocopherol acetate), niacinamide, reduced iron, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), folic acid, and vitamin B12.
The company announced on its website in late February 2013 that it was recalling three sizes of the Special K Red Berries in the US for containing pieces of glass.
In May of 2013, shoppers disapproved of the altered Special K formula, complaining that the cereal's flakes are too hard. The reason behind the extra crunch is the additional ingredient, barley. Kellogg shoppers also complained that the cereal has become too sugary. The company assures that the sugar content has remained the same (17%), the difference is that some of the sugar is baked on the outside of the flake, giving an added crunch.
Until the summer of 2014, Special K's formula was different in Canada from that used in the US. With the June, 2014 closure of Kellogg's London, Ontario plant, Canadians now eat Special K that is made in the U.S.
The discontinued Canadian formula had a different taste which reflected the "Canadian taste preference" (according to the Consumer Relations department of Kellogg's in Canada). The Canadian formula included rice, wheat gluten, sugar/glucose-fructose, defatted wheat germ, salt, malt (corn flour, malted barley), vitamins (thiamin hydrochloride, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, d-calcium pantothenate), iron, and BHT added to the package material to maintain product freshness.
Denmark has outlawed the addition of vitamins in Kellogg's products since 2004. Danish health officials banned cereals containing added vitamins because, they claimed Kellogg's Special K wanted to add extremely high levels of vitamin B6, calcium, folic acid and iron, which would reach toxic levels when eaten on a daily basis. Young children risk liver and kidney damage, while the fetuses of pregnant women can suffer complications from the toxins.
In an episode aired on October 15, 2009, the Dutch television show Keuringsdienst van Waarde, followed up one of Kellogg's Special K nutritional claims, namely the addition of iron. The show provided evidence that the iron was not nutritional ionic iron—as it occurs in natural foods like spinach—but was in fact metallic iron. A Kellogg's telephone help desk employee was not willing to discuss the ingredients of their products in general, claiming it was a company secret; although, in the show the company was not confronted with the findings. The nutritional experts in the show agreed that metallic iron should not be part of a diet. Metallic iron is speculated to damage organs. After the airing, the Dutch food authority nuanced the claims made in the TV program, claiming there are no health risks. They also challenged the claim that the cereal could contain "shredded bites," and responded that iron powder is suitable for human consumption.
The evidence provided during the show followed David Catz's description of an experiment by Dr. Babu George, Sacred Heart University, in which iron is extracted from cereals. The description dates from 1984. As a result of this experiment being published and inquiries being made to the manufacturers, some companies have replaced the metallic iron in their products with an iron compound such as iron (III) phosphate, ferric phosphate
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- [dead link]
- Katz, David A. (2006-07-04). "Extracting Iron From Cereal" (PDF). chymist.com. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- Official Kellogg's Special K website for the United States
- Official Kellogg's Special K website for the United Kingdom
- Official Kellogg's Special K website for Ireland