Tuesday, June 12, 2012

16 Most Misleading Food Labels

www.health.msn.com - June 11th, 2012

Have you ever picked one grocery item over another because of the health claims on the label? You may have been duped. That's because terms like fat free or all natural are often slapped on a food item that may not be healthy at all.

Frustrated? You're not alone. Nearly 59% of consumers have a hard time understanding nutrition labels, according to a Nielsen survey.

Here's our list of the 16 most common— — and most misleading phrases— — manufacturers use on food, with advice on how to look past the hype to make smarter supermarket choices.

All natural
Don't be fooled, all natural doesn't mean all that much. The Food and Drug Administration doesn't define it, although food makers won't get in trouble as long as so-labeled food doesn't contain added colors, artificial flavors, or "synthetic substances."
That means there's room for interpretation.

So a food labeled natural may contain preservatives or be injected with sodium, in the case of raw chicken. "Some natural products will have high fructose corn syrup and companies will argue that since it comes from corn, it's healthy," says Stephan Gardner, director of litigation at the Center of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). "Well, that isn't true."

When shopping for healthy bread and crackers, look for the words whole grain or 100% whole wheat. It's not enough if it says multigrain or made with whole grain.

Whole grains, (which include popcorn, brown rice, and oatmeal), have more fiber and other nutrients than those that have been refined, a process that strips away the healthiest portions of the grain.

And don't go by color alone: Some darker breads or crackers have caramel coloring and are no healthier than highly refined white breads.

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