Misleading Claims

November 16, 2011
By:  Maria

It is unfortunate that the FDA does not regulate all food labels; keeping food manufacturers from using cagey wording to lure you into believing the food you are about to consume is healthy. It takes a short few steps into the grocery store to see food labels claiming “low in”, “free of”, “good for” or “heart healthy”. Those claims have accomplished one thing:
We have become diseased and overweight at alarming rates and this trend – which started with the “low-fat, no-fat” revolution – keeps getting worse.
Here are some tips that will help you avoid falling prey to the misleading claims – read ingredient lists so you can become an informed consumer and make the best choices for your health.
Let’s take a look at some of those claims:
1. Lightly Sweetened – This one seems prevalent in the cereal aisle. You can see for yourself how ludicrous this claim is simply by reading the ingredients list and seeing the different types of sweeteners that hide behind unknown names (go here for comprehensive list). Take a look at Kellogg’s Smart Start – it claims to be lightly sweetened, yet it has more sugar per cup than a full serving of Oreo cookies! Not sure about the “smart” in that cereal.
2. Reduced Fat – One of the most misleading claims since the manufacturer’s are targeting exactly the customers that think reduced fat is actually a good thing and that the product is healthy. Although lower in fat, what’s not advertised is the fact that with the reduction of fat, there is an increase in sugars and sodium and absolutely NO nutrition gain to speak of.
3. Natural – Probably the number one abused labeling used by manufacturers. Some of those “natural” products include high fructose corn syrup, toxic synthetics, pesticides, fertilizers and GMO’s.
In my book, that is not the type of natural I want to consume!
4. No Trans fat – Ah, the big one! Everyone seems to be talking about trans fat and how they are avoiding this particular evil. Little do they know that the products claiming to have no trans fat, more than likely STILL HAVE TRANS-FAT! Yep, as long as it contains less than 0.49 grams per serving that label is perfectly acceptable (when was the last time you had the product’s actual serving size??). Given the fact that the American Heart Association recommends less than 2 grams per day (and I believe they’re being grossly generous with that poison), you can see the problem. So even if the label reads 0g trans fat – ignore it….scroll down to the actual ingredients and look for shortening or partially hydrogenated anything.
If you’re going to purchase/consume processed “food” that comes with a label, READ it. Bypass the nutrition label and head straight down to the ingredient’s list to see what you are about to eat. If your 6 year old cannot pronounce it and it takes you longer than 4 seconds to read it, more than likely, it’s having a negative impact on your health.

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