Misleading Food Labels: The Myth of Good Health Food

If you’re reading posts on this website, then you are likely trying to eat healthier foods. And if you are looking for good health food, your probably meticulously check the food labels of the food you buy.  Most food products today  have labels on the packaging that lists the ingredients and their nutritional value.  However, misleading food labels on the front packaging are now very common in grocery stores.misleading-food-label

Selling processed food is a big business.  As with most business ventures, food products rely on advertising and public relations to increase the revenue. Unfortunately, the advertising strategies often mislead consumers by not stating the complete facts and by adding information that would make the food seem to be good health food, when in fact it is not.

When consumers see the following keywords and/or phrases –

  • healthy,
  • low-calorie,
  • low-fat,
  • low in sodium, and
  • gluten-free,

they assume that these food products are indeed what they claim they are. However, these are just buzz words to entice you to buy, and at best are leaving out important information, and at worst are not always entirely truthful.

Food Labels Are Often Misleading About Serving Sizes

It would be wise when looking for good health foods to be mindful of these marketing strategies and the preponderance of misleading food labels. The Nutrition Facts Panel of food products is the only information consumers should check out. This includes facts about the serving size, amounts of certain nutrients, and calories. It has also been regulated by the FDA or Food and Drug Administration.

However, be aware you need to pay close attention to the stated serving size to get the real picture.  The amount listed per serving is often totally unrealistic, and nothing like what most people would actually eat.  For instance, if a beverage is listed as 1/2 cup serving size, that is a mere 4 ounces, and most bottles would have anywhere from 10-20 ounces.  If you drink the entire bottle, you would be getting a much different amount of calories and nutrients than what is stated for a serving!

The following article written by Carrie Dennet and published at Seattletimes.com, discusses the truth behind food labels, as well as the most common marketing keywords being used to mislead consumers into buying their products.

Misleading food labels: Which foods are naturally healthy?

On Nutrition

If you need proof that you shouldn’t believe everything you read, consider the food label. In fact, when reading food labels, a dose of healthy cynicism may help you be … healthy. Some information on the label can help you make nutritious food choices, while other information can lead you to think you’re making a healthy choice — even when you aren’t.

So which information can you trust? The Nutrition Facts Panel. That panel, which includes serving size, calories and amounts of certain nutrients, is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It may not be exciting, and it could use a makeover, but it’s legit.

Use the Nutrition Facts Panel to check how big a serving size is, then compare it to how many servings you actually expect to eat. (Read the rest of the story here…)

Consumers need to check the back labels instead of the front labels that are sprinkled with advertising buzz words. Below is a video about the FDA cracking down on food manufacturers for misleading consumers about the nutrition value on the front labels.

Many Food Labels Mislead Consumers

In the article, Dennet has discussed three marketing phrases that are commonly used – natural, made with whole grains and multigrain, and trans-fat free or no high-fructose corn syrup.

Natural should only mean that there are no artificial flavors, no added food dyes, or other synthetic substances. Most consumers assume that when a food is ‘natural’, it is also organic. The truth is, ‘natural foods’ are not automatically also organic foods.

A label that states a food is made with whole grain is another example of a misleading food label.  If they put a tablespooon of whole grain in there, well, it was made with whole grain wasn’t it?  Always look for food products that are made of 100 percent whole grains, which should be stated clearly on the list of ingredients. Do not settle for products that are labeled as being made with whole grains and multigrain.  For good health food, they should be made of entirely whole grain products.

You should also keep in mind that food products that claim to be trans fat free or have no high-fructose corn syrup are not necessarily good health foods either.  They may still be loaded with amounts of saturated fat, or even large amounts of sugar.  You need to look an the entire list of ingredients, not just one “bad” ingredient that is left out.

On your next trip to the grocery store, remember to check out only the legitimate information — the Nutrition Facts Panel. Do not trust the misleading food labels with their myth of good health food.  Be especially wary of the buzz words on the front of the packaging.  Otherwise, you might think your are eating good health food, when instead what you are eating might make you unhealthy.


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ABC2 News. What’s really in your food Labels could be misleading. ABC2 News. If you think you know what’s actually in the food you’re buying you could be wrong. Reading the label may not be enough to help you know what’s in it. Experts say about 10 percent of the food in a grocery store is adulterated meaning it’s mislabeled.…

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America’s Most Misleading Brands. Fox Business. The POM case is just one example of a slew of recent confrontations companies have had with regulators customers and advocacy groups for false advertising and misleading labeling. Foods labelled as healthy or all-natural have been targeted most.…

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