Corporations and marketing teams have a singular focus when you enter the grocery store: make sure you choose to purchase their product. Companies create attractive packages, make healthy food claims, target children in advertisements and strategically place items on shelves (why do you think colorful cereal boxes are placed at kid height?). Included in these are deceptive food labels, which make claims that are either unnecessary, elusive or completely unregulated. To make you better prepared for your next grocery trip, we’ll tackle a majority of these claims below.
All natural (or Natural)
This one sounds really good when you read it. Of course, you want your food to be all natural! The alternative would be some synthesized ****, filled with god knows what. Unfortunately, this label doesn’t mean much of anything. Does anyone really consider Cheetos and Lays to be natural? Well, they claim to be…
Although the FDA has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term “natural,” we do have a longstanding policy concerning the use of “natural” in human food labeling. The FDA has considered the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food. However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation.https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/use-term-natural-food-labeling
When it comes to all natural or natural, it’s best to just simply ignore it, as pretty much anyone can make this claim since there are NO regulations behind it. This is an extremely deceptive food label.
This label is very important for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Only wheat, barley, and rye have gluten (nothing else). The supermarkets seem to slap this label on everything nowadays. For instance, the butter boxes below. Marketers add this to make you choose one item over the other since nothing aside from bread contains gluten.
Because no apples are made from wheat, barley or rye, if a bag of apples claims to be gluten free, keep in mind that all apples are gluten free.
Gluten free is another deceptive food label. If you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, you should be careful when it comes to gluten in products. Just realize, this should only be relevant when looking at items containing wheat, barley, or rye. We posted a great video on what gluten is, so check it out below.
We sound like a broken record here: foods contain a lot of unnecessary organic labels. THANKFULLY, the USDA recently added some regulations here. Watch our video on organic foods below to learn more.
When you’re shopping for organic food, make sure you only purchase foods containing the USDA label (below). Not one of the deceptive food labels :).
This label includes things like:
- At least 95% of ingredients are organic
- Things like baking soda or yogurt enzymes are allowed to be conventional
- Complete list here at USDA website
- No GMOs or synthetic fertilizers were used
- No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
- Farms were certified organic by the USDA
- Extremely lengthy process
- 30% of the livestock’s nutrition comes from pasture feeding
- Cattle fed 100% organic feed or forage
- No antibiotics or hormones administered to cattle
Free range or cage free
You’re buying some eggs and you see two boxes. Of course, you’re going to choose “free range”, you want the chickens that lay these eggs to have roamed around. USDA requirements are “free range must be produced by hens that are able to roam vertically and horizontally in indoor houses, and have access to fresh food and water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their laying cycle” (source). Free-range means that the chickens have access to the outdoors, but there are no requirements for the duration and quality of outdoor access.
Amazing facts about the human body
Read these recent articles about how amazing our human body is!
Also, check out this hilarious video posted by Funny or Die about deceptive food labels: