Six Meaningless Claims on Food Labels

Food labels are often very misleading.  As if there wasn’t enough erroneous information out there to confuse the public.  Below is an article describing the most common misleading claims from the food industry.  The report was put together by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Consumer Ally columnist Mitch Lipka points to the 158-page “Food Labeling Chaos” report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that identifies several misleading labeling tactics used by food companies. Here are six common but misleading claims included in the C.S.P.I. report.

Lightly-sweetened: Cereal packages often contain the phrase “lightly sweetened” to suggest less sugar. The Food and Drug Administration has regulations concerning the use of “sugar free” and “no added sugars” but nothing governing the claims “low sugar” or “lightly sweetened.” “Whether Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size is lightly sweetened should be determined by federal rules, not the marketing executives of a manufacturer,” says the C.S.P.I. report.

A good source of fiber: A number of food marketers now claim their products are a good source of fiber, but C.S.P.I. notes that often the fiber doesn’t come from traditional sources — whole grains, bean, vegetables or fruit — known to have health benefits. Instead, food makers are adding something called “isolated fibers” made from chicory root or purified powders of polydextrose and other substances that haven’t been shown to lower blood sugar or cholesterol.

Strengthens your immune system: Through “clever wordsmithing,” food companies can skirt F.D.A. rules about health claims and give consumers the impression that a product will ward off disease, notes the C.S.P.I. report. Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice claims to “strengthen your immune system with a daily dose of vitamin C.” Green Giant offers an “immunity blend” of frozen vegetables. Nestle’s Carnation Instant Breakfast says it contains “Antioxidants to help support the immune system.”

Made with real fruit: Often the “real fruit” is found in small quantities and isn’t even the same kind of fruit pictured on the package. Tropical fruit flavored Gerber Graduates Fruit Juice Treats show pictures of fresh oranges and pineapple. But the main ingredients are corn syrup, sugar and white grape juice concentrate. Betty Crocker’s Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers don’t contain strawberries — just pear concentrate.

Made with whole grains: Many products make a whole grain claim even though they often contain refined flour as the first ingredient and the amount of whole grains are minimal. The C.S.P.I. reports that the package of Keebler’s Townhouse Bistro Multigrain Crackers boasts they are made with “toasted whole wheat,” but the ingredient label shows the crackers contain more sugar than whole wheat.

All natural. Although the F.D.A. has issued several warning letters to firms making misleading “all natural” claims, the agency has never issued formal rules about the term, C.S.P.I. says. As a result, some products containing high fructose corn syrup claim to be “all natural.” One example is Minute Maid Premium All Natural Flavors Berry Punch. “Though glucose and fructose certainly occur in nature, the chemical conversions of cornstarch should not be considered natural,” writes C.S.P.I.

via Six Meaningless Claims on Food Labels – Well Blog – NYTimes.com.

Dr. Court’s Comments

Here’s is my suggestion to people when they ask me how they are to tell if something is good for you or not.  What you should do is shop around the edges of the grocery store.  Here you can find fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats and dairy among other things.  Skip those middle isles.  If it’s in a box, be careful about what your eating.  Many times it is filled with preservatives and other chemicals to make it stay fresher and taste better, longer.

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