Labeling Myths We Often Believe

When reading food labels…What should we believe? Is it all just a Myth?

When a product states that it is “LOW” in something, it must be healthy, right?

Wrong! When a product is low in one thing it is general high in another. Lower fat content generally increases sugar content, in turn adding more calories. Daily percent values show that on average we should only be consuming 2000 calories a day. Well, we all know this is unrealistic by today’s standards. The average consumer will read the nutrition labels on the back panel, but continue to consume 2 or 3 serving sizes often not realizing it.

Made with Whole Grains

How many of us buy a product because the front of the product says “made with whole grains”?

I do. Whole grains are healthy for us and when we see “whole grains” on a package we reach for that “healthier” product. What we don’t realize is that many of these products use unbleached wheat flour as the main ingredient, and only a small amount of whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is lower on the ingredient list indicating that that product contains less of that ingredient, since ingredients are listed from most used to least in a product. The presence of whole grains is masking yet another truth. Whole grains are making up an insignificant portion of food, making the whole grain product no healthier than the regular stuff. Some products even go as far as saying they use whole grains, but use ingredients such as caramel to mimic the brown color of whole grains.

An article in Good Housekeeping states, “The Center for Science in the Public Interest argues that U.S. nutrition labels and ingredient lists should be more consumer-friendly.” Group the major ingredients and minor ingredients separately making it very clear to the consumer what they are buying.

Omega-3s are another ingredient many of us look for in our food. Fatty acids in omega-3s are healthy, but not all products labeled with omega-3s are a health source. You see, the FDA does not allow products to advertise that they reduce the risk of heart disease unless they meet multiple qualifications. For example, eggs have the word omega-3 on the carton, but nothing specifically stating a healthy heart. The FDA prohibits eggs from doing so because eggs are high in cholesterol. However, the consumer is being misled simply because they see omega-3 on the packaging.

Consumers are also taken by buzz words. We see healthy, low-calorie, low-fat, low-sodium, and gluten-free and we instantly think that the product must be good for us. As we can tell from the above information these words mean nothing. Consumers should be looking at the facts panel and paying close attention to serving sizes and the amounts of nutrients, calories, and fats. Remember often serving sizes are misleading because they are unrealistic by today’s standards.
There are so many other labeling myths we often believe. Don’t trust those misleading food labels with the myth you are buying healthy food. Check out only the legitimate facts on the nutrition facts panel.