Sunday, February 5, 2012

0 Labeling or should I say mislabeling of food products in the United States

Actual label from a cereal selling themselves as "healthy"

The Labeling Act of 1938 was revised in 1973 allowing imitation products not to be labeled as imitation. You might be surprised at some of the things that can be in your food today. With all of the who-ha over the last week or so, you may be aware that there is more than likely ammonium nitrate in your ground beef – and they don't have to tell you. There are additives to your 100% natural orange juice - and they don't have to tell you. You are also probably aware that there are GE (genetically engineered) or GMO (genetically modified organisms) in your food too – and they don't have to tell you that either. Oh and don't forget, just because something says it's natural doesn't mean it's naturally what you think it is. Read on...

Natural and artificial food flavorings can both made in laboratories. Natural flavorings are made from a natural source, but not necessarily the ones that you think they are – artificial flavorings are not natural at all. For example, coconut flavoring is a natural flavoring made from the bark of a tree in Malaysia, not from coconuts and natural strawberry flavoring is actually made from a bacterial protein, not from strawberries.

Remember when reading ingredient labels that the producer must list the ingredients in descending order from the most to the least quantity in the products. For example if the label reads: water, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, natural and artificial flavorings – it means that you're buying sweetened flavored water with juice added, you are not buying fruit juice. If the label reads: fruit juice, natural and artificial flavorings – you're buying some kind of fruit juice with some kind of flavorings added.

When it comes to juices, beware of labels such as “drink” and “cocktail” - they're your clue that the juice contains added sugars of some kind. Also, just because it's 100% juice does not mean that it's 100% of the juice that you think you're buying – read the ingredient label and discover for example that the cranberry juice you're drinking has a whole lot of grape and/or apple juice in it. It's 100% juice, just not 100% cranberry juice.

100% pure products such as orange juice, can still contain flavor packs for aroma and taste. These flavor packs are synthetically produced, but since they come from orange by-products they don't have to be added to the ingredients label. Did you know that even though your orange juice says that it's not made from concentrate, that it really is?  Your orange juice is made from orange juice concentrate produced from the juice of several different varieties of oranges and can be a year or more old - it's stored in a vacuum chamber so that there is no oxygen that will make it go bad.  Then they add water and flavor packs, made from orange skins and other orange by-products to make it taste fresh.  You're actually better off eating an orange than drinking a glass of orange juice – an orange contains more vitamin C, more fiber and less calories than a whole glass of orange juice! By the way, orange juice is just one example the same goes for other juices as well.

The word “nectar” implies that what you're drinking is pure – but it doesn't really mean that. It really means that it contains fruit juice or puree, water, sweeteners and might even contain HFCS. Check the ingredient label – you might be surprised.

Beware of “fat free” labeling! By now I hope you're aware that if they take the fat out of something, that it means they had to put something else in to give it more flavor – usually more sugar or salt. Not only that, but sometimes it means that their “serving size” is smaller than you would actually use, so that the fat contect falls under the amount of fat that the FDA requires to be identified on labels. For example, a “serving size” of PAM cooking spray means that you should only spray your pan for a ¼ of a second. Good luck with that...

“Sugar free” labeling only means that the product doesn't contain sucrose. It can still contain other sugar alcohols from carbohydrates that are not technically sugar. Sugar alcohols are not sugar free, they contain 1.5-3 calories per gram vs 4 calories per gram for sugar. Also, certain sugar alcohols cause stomach digestion issues.

Remember when the ingredient label just had sugar...well now they still list sugar as an ingredient (or maybe not – it may be sugar free although it may also have one of these), but also on the list of ingredients you will see the list of “hidden” sugars: maltodextrose, dextrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, fructose, sucrose, cane juice, cane syrup, glucose, fruit juice concentrate, honey, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, and corn, rice, maple, agave or other grain syrups/nectars. Look at a box of crackers or a bag of flavored chips (I picked these because they shouldn't have any sugar in them) - I bet you will see sugar and/or one or more of those as an you really think that they are all necessary? I don't... I also believe that this is one of the reasons that people are overweight in our country – you are eating a lot more sugar than you used to eat. Both because they make things sweeter today, and also because they add more of these “hidden” sugars.

There is one way that the FDA seems to help you though, that is, it does not allow food companies to advertise that their products can be used to treat diseases. So, beware of food products that claim to lower cholesterol or boost immunity to diseases. For example, Cheerios got in trouble with the FDA for advertising that by eating Cheerios you can lower cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks, because it sounded like they were treating cholesterol not providing breakfast food.

While whole-grains may be good for you and they may lower cholesterol – food companies can not use those claims to sell you food. Also, you probably know that a product can say that it contains “whole-grains” but there is no law defining what that actually means. For that matter there is no definition for “natural”, so just because they say that they're all-natural, doesn't really mean they are.

So beware of labels that say “heart healthy”, “lowers cholesterol”, “fat free”, “sugar free”, “whole grain”, “all natural”, etc. The only way to know what you are eating is all-natural is to buy organic or home/farm raised foods and cook them yourself.

If you enjoyed this article or this blog – click on the “Subscribe” link below.

About the Author

Author info. Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these with your own descriptions, if you like it Subscribe to Our Feed and Follow Me on Twitter

    Other Recommended Posts

  • food additives, hidden ingredients, nutrition


Post a Comment

back to top