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Oh those cheeky food labels!


Food manufacturers are the best in the game when it comes to bending the guidelines, so they can get away with misleading you into buying their product over their competitors. You may not see it when you walk into your local super-market, but every product that sits on the shelf has been strategically placed to catch your eye. If the product is in easy reach, then that's the product usually most profitable to the store. Every brand in there are at war to get your attention and they won't let nothing get in their way, unfortunately that can include your health and your wallet.



It's always important to know what you are being sold and what you are putting in your body. It may seem obvious when labels say "Fat Free" or "Multigrain," however there are loopholes that manufacturers can use to save money, increase profit and bend the truth when it comes to advertising a healthy image. So let's go over a few of these "marketing" labels to better equip ourselves next time we go grocery shopping.





All natural means healthy right?

ALL NATURAL


There is no defined standard for a product listed as ‘all natural.’ The only guideline it has to pass is that is must not contain any artificial flavours. This means it could still

contain high fructose corn syrup,

GMO and preservatives.


Is there any real difference?

MULTIGRAIN


Multigrain does not mean that it necessarily healthy for you. Many multigrain foods are just as processed as white bread, and are in fact dyed to look more natural in colour. If you want a healthier option choose ‘wholegrain’ or ‘100% whole wheat.’



NO ADDED SUGAR


We all know processed, refined sugar is bad for you. So when we see the "No Added Sugar" we could think it's free from all sugars. However foods can still be high in fructose sugars, which in high dosage can still be damaging to your health, especially

your liver.


ZERO SUGAR/SUGAR FREE


Means it has no granular or

powdered sugar. However other

chemical alternatives can be added

that creates a sweeter

sensation on the taste-buds whilst

cutting calories. Although this could

lead to further food cravings and

increase weight gain by impacting

and damaging your microbes in your digestive tract.

Is anything really organic?

ORGANIC


So here's the kicker, only 70% of the product for sale has to be organic, to be advertised as 'made with organic ingredients.' 95% organic to have the label in big writing on the packaging. Then finally to have the "100% Organic" mark, all ingredients must be organic except any salt and water used which can still contain chemicals. Also, the quality of the nutrition may be effected if foods are grown organically, as without pesticides or added vitamin preservatives, these foods are usually the first to be spoiled under normal growth and harvesting conditions. So you could be paying more for less nutrient dense food.


MADE WITH REAL FRUIT


Products bearing this label do not actually need the whole fruit added, all it needs is to be sourced from at least a "fruit concentrate" to be marketed. Which means a lot of the nutrients you would get from just eating the fruit whole, like the fiber will be missing, will likely have a higher fructose (GI number) value and could cause digestive issues due to the added chemicals needed in the concentrate conversion.


FREE RANGE


For eggs to be advertised as free range, chickens must have at least 10 minutes of sunlight each day. Prisoners are technically free then. Ouch.




FAT FREE


When fat is removed from a product, taste tends to be compensated. A lot of companies

will then replace the fat with a carbohydrate, commonly sugar to enhance the taste. Also note, not all fats are bad for you, your body needs fats in order to function. Like anything, consume in moderation.


LIGHT


Technically the word "Light" on a product would mean lower in calories or fat by at least 25%. However, food companies have been known to use this term to simply mean the food is "light" in colour.




CALORIE COUNT


Food labels are allowed a 20% margin error on the calorie count advertised. May not sound like a lot, but you could be paying more than it's rival product that may be a little over 300 calories. This tub of ice cream could actually be 342 calories. Or that under 500 calories meal that you are paying more for could actually be 600 calories.



SERVING SIZE


Serving sizes are able to be listed as being a lot smaller than what is realistic, to make the product seem as though

it has less calories. This is one of the most common marketing tricks, food companies use.


Stay ahead of the game, start reading the food nutrition labels before you buy

So in conclusion what do we do? Start our own farm? Go back to the caveman era and hunt our own food? No of course not. Just always look at the nutrition information on the back of the food packaging and read what's actually going on. Food companies may be able to fool you on the cover, but your smarts will keep you clued up, when you read the label on the rear. Stay healthy, be happy. x















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