The food industry wants your attention BADLY. It’s part of the reason why uncoding the true meaning of food labels can be so difficult.
There are thousands of options to choose from at the grocery store and food marketers will do everything in their power to grab your attention.
What makes a food label so hard to read?
For starters, there are two organizations that regulate food and both have two very different objectives.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates the front of food packaging.
You may be accustomed with the FTC being associated with words like IPO, startups and the NYSE. Surprisingly, the FTC plays a significant role in the choices available at the grocery store.
The primary job of the FTC is to promote fair trade among corporations. This explains why we see similar health claims like “healthy” and “natural” on such a variety of products.
The FTC seeks to standardize these claims so all products are on a level playing field. It also explains why we have such a difficult time understanding the true meaning of these claims.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the back of food packaging.
This is where the factual information of food lies and why food professionals recommend looking at the back of food for nutritional accuracy.
The FDA has a much different mission than the FTC. The FDA seeks to protect the consumer from harmful foods and provides more factual information.
You should know that some health claims used on food aren’t regulated, while others have a standard definition that has been set by either the FTC or FDA.
The solution at this point becomes somewhat suggestive – Look at the back nutritional label to avoid high marketing buzz words when deeming a food as healthy.
There’s one problem, the front of packaging is the first thing you see at the grocery store. Despite your most disciplined efforts to focus on the nutritional label it’s likely that front of food will make your decision that much harder.
THESE ARE THE 7 MOST MISLEADING FOOD LABELS AND WHAT THEY MEAN.
Many Americans, including myself have come to believe that the word “natural” on our food label means a healthy food choice. If you’re like me, you will be surprised to find out the the real definition…According to the FDA, foods can be labeled “natural” as long as they don’t contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.
One would think that GMO’s are synthetic substances and therefore prevented from being labeled as “natural.” However, that doesn’t seem to be true. Consumer Reports has found that virtually all of the foods labeled as “natural,” or not labeled with any claim related to GMO content, contained substantial amounts of GMO ingredients.
For decades we’ve been told to avoid foods high in fat because it causes us to get fat. In Gary Taube’s masterpiece, , he debunks this theory and explains why fat is an essential part of a health working body.
Many foods claiming to be “low-fat” are loaded with sugar, and other food additives. These ingredients are used in lieu of fat, because fat provides our food with essential characteristics such as texture and flavor.
A “sugar-free” label should really be called healthy-free. Nearly all sugar-free and diet foods contain artificial sweeteners.
These sweeteners have been linked to an array of health and diet issues including insulin resistance – the very issue they seek to solve.
Some common artificial sweeteners include; sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and aspartame.
The food label “gluten-free” alone isn’t a guarantee that what you’re eating is healthy. Many highly processed snacks loaded with sugar are labeled gluten-free.
Gluten-free free is an indication of the absence of gluten and that’s it. For more information on gluten, read my previous post where I’ve written complete facts on gluten.
5. Farm Fresh
The label “farm fresh” may lead you to believe that your food is produced by a local farmer on an actual farm. However, the FDA hasn’t set forth a standardization for what farm fresh can be.
Food marketers have taken advantage of this and put the “farm fresh” label on food willingly. Unless you are buying you food directly from a farm, the label farm fresh can mean just about anything.
6. Naturally Flavored
Have you ever wondered how something labeled “naturally flavored” can taste so distant from its actual flavor? That’s because several derivatives of the actual food may be used in line with the FDA’s guidelines.
According to the FDA…
The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis…whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.
7. Heart Healthy
“Heart healthy” simple means low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol and low in anything else that the FDA believes causes heart disease. Highly processed foods including many breakfast cereals can proudly boast the food label “heart healthy” because their product abides by the definition.
What they don’t imply is that many of these foods contain high levels of sugar. Recent studies have found sugar to play a significant role in heart disease.
Gary Taube’s bestselling book, , outlines this process in an easy to read format.
Some of the most heart healthy foods don’t have food labels on them. They can be found in farmers markets and in the produce aisles.
HELP ME HELP YOU.
These aren’t the only deceptive food labels, these are the ones I’ve had trouble with. I want to know what food labels you find deceptive. If I haven’t covered it be sure to share it with me so I can research it.