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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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