Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Devious and Deceptive Packaging

Have you read anything in the news lately about childhood
obesity, Jose Canseco and steroids, or fat free foods? Where is
the truth in any of that?

If only we lived and shopped in a pure world where labels told
the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But while consumers
rely on labels to make wise nutritional choices, food manufacturers
use labels to sell their product. Remember when we used to read
the label before making an informed purchase decision.

The two functions of a label -- providing accurate information and
enticing someone to buy the product -- conflict and send mixed messages.
One the one hand we read buy me and on the other is this product
good for me?

Labels can be misleading, especially if you don't learn to read between
the lines and examine the fine print. today's labels are very complex with
statements that make claims or tout benefits that may not be true.
Knowing what the words on the label really mean is a big step in learning
to make nutritious and the right choices at the supermarket.

Through the years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
attempted to make sure that the food products made available to
the American public are safe for consumption. For most, the
likelihood of suffering a food or drug related illness is remote.
That was until bio-terrorism threats reared its ugly head.

Yet, for those with specific food allergies or unique health
conditions, proper labeling on products is imperative in order to
avoid potentially dangerous situations. The addition of
supplements and additives to food products poses another risk to
consumers if it is discovered that the substance in question is
harmful. It is therefore extremely important that consumers are
made aware of specific dangers associated with food and food
products, through accurate labeling, published warnings and their
own investigation. Think about all the food products lately that
have been recalled due to mislabeling at the manufacturers.

Here are a few popular product statements to consider:

No sugar added or low carb
The FDA has rules about labeling claims that specifically bar the
use of "low" such as low-car yet it has not established a
standard for "low" for an ingredient or nutritional element (such
as the standard for low fat)... So claims of low-carb on labels
right now are actually illegal.

MSG is sometimes hidden in food with labels that say "No Added
MSG" and "No MSG."
Find out more at

Got Milk? Well, is it really all its cracked up to be?
The latest claims are touting drinking milk as a way to lose
See and decide for yourself.

100% natural! Natural what?
A product label will state: "made with 100% natural ingredients,"
or "made with 100% organic ingredients." The "100%" claim often
refers to one or two ingredients, which are "100% natural" or
"100% organic" even if other ingredients are synthetic. So the
bottom line is what is "natural" when it describes a product?

"Unscented" Yeah right, ever use any of these products?
That unscented product is many times worse that the scented variety.
Anyway unscented is a misnomer -- it does not mean "without chemical
fragrances." If an item is labeled "unscented," it may contain a
masking fragrance (which is a chemical fragrance designed to
"block" the smells of other chemicals in the product) and
additional toxic chemicals.

So the question remains -- When is a product packaging misleading
in its descriptions and are the manufactures deliberately
deceptive? No one knows for sure. Let the buyer beware! It's up
to you the consumer to read the labels and make an informed
decision as to the true benefits of a packaged product.
Remember most products carry an 800 number on the package that
you can call and ask about the product itself.


Post a Comment

<< Home