Misleading Claims on Food LabelsPosted: February 20, 2010 in Healthy Eating by Craig Primack MD FACP
Weight loss experts are constantly telling us to read food labels so that we can make healthier choices about what we eat. But do you know how to sort out the real information from the marketing fluff?
3 Meaningless Claims on Food Labels
- Lightly-sweetened. The Food and Drug Administration has specific guidelines about which foods can claim to be “sugar free” and to contain “no added sugars,” but there are no such guidelines about the claims “low sugar” or “lightly sweetened.” If it’s not regulated, consider it the opinion of a marketing executive and ignore it. Check the actual number of grams of sugar that are listed on the nutrition facts label.
- A good source of fiber. All fibers are not created equal. When doctors encourage you to eat more fiber, they’re probably trying to lead you toward whole grains, beans, vegetables, or fruits. But many food manufacturers are adding “isolated fibers” from sources like chicory root and claiming that they’re a “good source of fiber.” Unfortunately, isolated fibers haven’t been shown to provide the same health benefits, like lower blood sugar or cholesterol, as traditional fiber sources.
- Made with real fruit. In order to make that claim, there must be some “real fruit” in the food. However, there are no rules about how much fruit needs to be included. Often the real fruit that’s being referenced comes in very small quantities, and may not be the fruit you’re expecting from the picture on the packaging. The only real fruit in Betty Crocker’s Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers, for example, is the pear concentrate. Check the ingredient list for the full scoop on the real fruit.