Six misleading food claims to watch out for when shopping for healthy foods.
Posted on Feb 01, 2010 by Maggie LaBarbera
I just read an article that talked about the misleading claims on food packaging. This was a hot topic at the Childhood Obesity Conference last June because marketers are finding ways to make their brand sound really healthy! When in fact, their claims are misleading. How is the average consumer to know?
According to this article, here are the six meaningless claims found on Food packaging to watch out for:
- Lightly sweetened: This may be found on cereal packages. It sounds like there is very little sugar, right? What does that really mean? There is no regulation on what can be termed "less sugar", compared to what? When shopping for a cereal for your child, look for cereals that have the five-five rule. Five grams or less of sugar and Five grams or more of fiber in a serving. Now this may be harder to find, but at least you have a guide.
- A good source of fiber: But are these foods providing fiber that naturally comes from whole grains, legumes, vegetables or fruit? Some food manufacturers are adding what is called "isolated fibers" which have not been shown to have the same health benefits.
- Strengthens your immune system: Read carefully. Immune systems need a variety and balance of vitamins and minerals that work together to build a good immune system. This comes from natural fruits and vegetables and a balanced diet from foods from all five food groups.
- Made with real fruit: What you want to look for is 100% real fruit juice. And even then, fruit juice has a lot of sugar, so children should be limited to one 6oz glass of 100% juice per day.
- Made with whole grains: Again, you want 100% whole grains. Otherwise, it may have some whole grains but it can also have lots of refined or processed grains. Check the label. It should be the first item in the ingredients list.
- All natural: All I can advise is to read the label. It could be full of high fructose corn syrup. We know what real "natural" foods are. They usually don't come in a package.
For more help, here is a fun way to learn how to read food labels
Free printable "health food claims" guidelines
Food Claims article
Quick Food Label printable - take the grocery store for quick reference
Healthy shopping list
Other blogs on food labels:
Food labeling systems
Smart Choices food labeling system