Misleading food labels: Don’t believe everything you read

ORLANDO, FLA. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Consumers are more health-conscious than ever before, so some food manufacturers are pulling out all the tricks to convince people to buy highly processed and unhealthy foods.

Class action litigation against food and beverage companies hit a record high last year, as consumer advocates fight back against food labels that try to take advantage of consumers. What you read on the package may not be what’s inside.

Healthy, all-natural, low-fat, humanely raised… the list goes on and on.

“It can be very misleading to the consumer.” Explains Tara Collingwood, RDN.

Common misleading food labels include… ‘made with whole grains’. This implies 100 percent of grains used are whole. It really means the recipe includes a pinch of whole grains. Choose only products labeled 100 percent whole grains.

Collingwood further explains by stating, “I always say it’s made with very little of that particular ingredient.”

When the label says ‘multi-grain’, it implies more healthful whole grains but many of these foods are full of refined grains, so nutritionists say to disregard this label completely. The word ‘natural’ implies no man-made ingredients, organic and non-gmo. What it really means… nothing at all!

Collingwood states that “There are certain words that are not regulated. So, for example, natural.”

And if a label does not list sugar as the first ingredient, it doesn’t mean the sugar content is not high. All of these ingredients are substitutes for sugar. And family-farmed is popular now but be aware… the USDA says the words can describe any farm in which the operator or their relatives own at least half the business, which adds up to 97 percent of the nation’s farms.

“I think instead of just even looking at the front of the package, turn the package around and look at those nutrition facts.” Says Collingwood.

So, to protect yourself, ignore the claims on the front packaging. Study the ingredients list. Avoid foods that list refined grains, sugar, or hydrogenated oils as the first three ingredients. Instead, choose items that have whole foods listed at the top.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/science/food-labels-lawsuits.html

https://www.gaplesinstitute.org/5-misleading-food-labels/

Contributor(s) to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Robert Walko, Videographer and Editor.

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.