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Misleading Food Labels: Read Them Carefully

Updated on February 20, 2019
lambservant profile image

Lori loves to promote health and wellness. She works hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Why not spread the word?

FDA Regs Are Falling Down

The FDA stands for Food and Drug Administration. Personally, I think the FDA has drugs in their food and that is why they're such bad administrators. And food label regulations have spiraled out of control. Companies are downright paranoid about getting sued because of safety issues, and conversely, their products are full of unhealthy even damaging ingredients. Today I start a series on labels that are stupid and misleading, starting with food products. The worst labeling to me are the ones that claim to have healthy ingredients, that name a specific ingredient, when in fact the amount is so minute as to be totally insignificant, or in a form that is no longer nutritious. The labeling regulations are full of loopholes. The FDA is falling down on the job, big time. I hope you will find a wee bit of humor here. But really, some of it is downright pathetic and scary.

Bon Ape′tite!

"Duh" Food Labels

These are labels that insult your intelligence, either by being obnoxiously redundant or telling you information that a gnat couldn't miss.

Slushy: This ice may be cold. You know, if they are going to spend money to put a label on a slushy, they would be using their money more wisely to say, "Warning: May cause brain freeze."

Mark & Spencer Bread Pudding®: Product will be hot after heating. It should say, "WARNING: Blow on hot Mark & Spencer Bread Pudding before taking a bite to avoid burning the roof of your mouth.

Bumble Bee® Tuna: The label reads - Premium Tuna Bumble Bee Chunk White Albacore In Water. On the back of the can it lists the ingredients: White tuna, water, vegetable broth, salt, pyrophosphate added. Below that, in very large letters it says CONTAINS: TUNA. Talk about redundant!

Hershey's® Almond Bar: May contain traces of nuts. Traces my foot.

Hagen Ice Cream®: Ice cream is cold. I can't believe it. How could I not have known this?

On a bottle of water: Gluten Free. Well, that's a relief, I was really worried.

Many brands of Eggs: CONTAINS EGGS. Thank goodness, I was worried they'd contain baby chicks.

Some brands of Milk: Contains Milk, or contains dairy.

Huh? Labels

These labels are deliberately confusing and misleading. By being strategically and cleverly confusing with their wording, they're getting away with convincing not-so-smart people they are smart buyers.

Triscuit® Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers: NATURAL FLAVOR WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS. I must be missing something.

Aunt Jemima® Butter Rich Syrup: Natural Butter Flavor With Other Natural Flavors. More of the same. Is it butter or natural butter flavor? It is not the same actually. All they want to convince you of is that it tastes buttery. I'll cover mine with honey thank you very much.

Fig Newton® Minis: Made with 100% more real fruit than a Nutri-Grain® Bar. How much fruit does a Nutri Grain Bar have? The strawberry yogurt flavor has no fruit listed on the ingredients label. The blueberry flavor has very little fruit at all. So saying you have 100% more fruit than a Nutri Grain bar does not mean Fig Newton Minis have 100 % fruit. Just more fruit than the Nutri Grain Bar...I think. I will talk more about the nutritious (NOT) ingredients of Nutri Grain Bars below.

Remove the cap, ya, but how?
Remove the cap, ya, but how?

Stupid Instructions

Unless you are a newborn or have Alzheimer's, these food product instructions are no-brainers. But go ahead and read them. You might be surprised and learn something you didn't know.

Airline Companies Roasted Nuts: Step 1. Open package. Step 2. Eat nuts. This label was created by nuts. Airlines need to get back to flying.

At the bottom of a Coca-Cola® bottle: Do not open here. Think how much the Coca-Cola Company would save by eliminating this label. After all, it's not like if someone did try to drink from the bottom they could lose a tongue or lip.

Heinze Ketchup®: Instructions: Put on food. Really? Boy, this label sure saved my hyde. If they had not given me these detailed instructions, I might have used it as hemorrhoid cream.

Kraft® Easy Cheese: For best results, remove cap. No kidding. Instructions like these are providing the wrong information. My excellent advice to Kraft would be to change it to something more helpful, like, Warning: Engineering degree required to remove cap.

Don't you just hate trying to open things nowadays?

Hormel Pepperoni®: Do not eat packet. Darn it! I was looking so forward to it. If you look at the ingredients of Hormel Pepperoni, you will realize that the packaging is more nutritious and less dangerous.

You won't get cavities, but you'll die of cancer.
You won't get cavities, but you'll die of cancer.

Contradictory Food Labels

Carefree® Gum: Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains Saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Carefree? My foot. You may avoid tooth decay, but you could die of cancer.

Skinny Cow®: Brand name for rich, sugary snacks like ice cream treats, candy, and snack bars. Skinny Cow products do not keep you skinny, and cows are not skinny anyway.

Land O Lakes® Fat Free Half and Half: Half and Half is supposed to be half Cream. Cream is not fat free. So if they take all the fattening stuff out, it is no longer cream. Thus, it is not Half and Half.

Diet Coke®: Has a label on the box that shows a red dress with a white heart on it and says The Heart TRUTH™ Join Diet Coke in support of women's heart health program. Visit

Considering Diet Coke has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, and is full of Aspartame and other artificial ingredients, it is a very unhealthy product. At least Coca-Cola is not claiming Diet Coke has healthy ingredients. But don't you think it's laughable that Coca Cola and The Heart Truth organization are using each other in the name of health? Some of the other sponsors for The Heart Truth are: Cheerios®, Rich's Coffee® Rich Non-Dairy Creamer (I'll let you do the research on those ingredients), Kozy Shack® refrigerated dairy snacks (more homework for you), and Snyder's of Hanover®, maker of pretzels and other related snack treats (much less than heart healthy, I might add). How hypocritical for an organization that promotes heart health to be sponsored by food companies whose products are unhealthy. Oh well. I'll stick to fish, veggies, fruit, and the like.

A must read for all shoppers. Never go to the grocery store without a copy.
A must read for all shoppers. Never go to the grocery store without a copy. | Source

Slippery Food Labels

Fritos® and other Frito Lay® products: Have been known to say, You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside. HA! I'm not fallin' for that one anymore.

No-One-Can-Be-That-Stupid Food Labels

On a roll of Life Savers: Not for use as a flotation device. I'll have to notify my grandchildren. They love water.

Sentimental, Corny, and Funny Drivel Marketing Labels

It is downright nauseating, and yet hilarious at what the marketing industry will put on a label or billboard or advertisement to make a product seem so appealing you can't live without it.

Nestle JUICY JUICE®: On the back of the box is a label that says the following (Get out your hankies folks, it will tug on your heartstrings): "GROWING UP HEALTHY JUICY JUICE® is committed to helping you raise happy healthy kids. Parenting doesn't come with roadmaps. That's why JUICY JUICE is by your side throughout the journey (sniff)--creating nutritious and delicious 100% juice products, offering parenting tips on our website (finally, there's hope), and supporting schools in our partnership with BOX TOPS FOR EDUCATION® (and my kid will get straight A's?)With JUICY JUICE as your ally, you can focus on the good stuff -- raising happy, healthy children."

I am so relieved knowing that if my grandchildren drink JUICY JUICE, their parents and I will have JUICY JUICE by our side in the journey of life. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last. Thank you JUICY JUICE, we're not worthy.

Kellogg's Nutri Grain® Cereal Bars: Get this: "Soothe your errand-running soul with a little something made with real blueberries wrapped in yummy whole grains." All these years I've been running to God to soothe my soul. How was I to know all I had to do was eat a Nutri Grain Cereal Bar?

Vitamin Water® Energy Citrus: "In soccer (excuse us Mexico, Spain, and Italy, we mean 'futbol'), there isn't a more exciting moment than when the announcer screams 'gooooooooal' (yelling 'ooofffisddde' never quite caught on). With that said, we added B vitamins, caffeine and guarana to give you an extra kick (pun intended). So now when you're watching soccer, playing soccer, coaching soccer, driving kids to soccer or doing anything that starts with 'socc' and ends with 'er', you too can have the energy of a raving lunatic to yell 'gooooal.'"

That is why whenever I drink Vitamin Water I have the uncontrollable urge to yell "Gooooal" and "Go teeeeeam."

But it gets worse. The Vitamin Water® Revive Fruit Punch says the following to motivate you to drink their outstanding product: "If you woke up tired, you probably need more sleep. If you woke up drooling at your desk, you probably need a new job. If you woke up with a headache on a Ferris wheel wearing a toga, you probably need answers, not to mention this product. It's got B and C vitamins to help you recover and feel refreshed--kinda like in those old norsca® soap commercials. And if you're like our boss, Mike, and woke up married to an Elvis impersonator, you probably need a lawyer.

Vitamin Water's attempt at humor and appealing marketing begs the manufacturer to put an anti-nausea substance in the product.

On a bag of nuts: We proudly offer you our nuts. It has a fragrant flavor and taste. I want some.

Healthy Ingredients? No Way.

Here we have food products that claim healthy ingredients. It just makes you want to throw up. If you eat them, you just might.

Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening: Yeah right! Crisco ingredients are all vegetables. Let's take a look at the ingredients:



Hmm, I think I'll purchase some TBHQ for my salad tonight with a little Mono and Diglycerides for texture, marinated in hydrogenated Palm Oil. TBHQ not only is not a vegetable, but it is also a substance used in varnish, lacquers, and resins. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Mono and Diglycerides can come from an animal or vegetable source, but it is not a vegetable in and of itself. There is one slightly healthy nutritional fact about Crisco, it has 15% Vitamin E. Well, I'll be 'et for a tater.

Kellogg's Nutri Grain® Cereal Bars: And just so you know, the ingredient labels on the Nutri Grain Bars are very misleading. On the package, it says NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Well, that's true, but the Nutri Grain Bars are nothing but unhealthy ingredients with almost no fruit. Get a load of this:



Funny, I see Zinc Oxide listed. I used to coat my nose with Zinc Oxide when I was a teenager whenever I went to the beach. It protected my skin from burning. It was a very thick, white paste. I could have saved some money by eating it for lunch rather than spending $5 for those greasy fried burritos and Churros at the Snack Shack. But I suppose the burrito and churros also contained Zinc Oxide. It holds it all together, don't you know. Seriously, if you want to know more about Zinc Oxide, let me tell you what they use it for besides ointment. It is used in the manufacturing of rubber, concrete, cigarette filters, pigment, coatings such as paint, and is used to prevent corrosion in nuclear reactors. That's just a few examples.

In this vast list of ingredients, almost nothing is healthy. In all fairness, the FDA has deemed Zinc Oxide not to have any health risks unless it is inhaled. According to them if you eat it, it is non-toxic. Maybe, maybe not, but what does it do to your digestive system? I for one will never eat a Nutri Grain Bar. And as for the FDA, I'll trust that Obama's done a good job the last four years before I trust that the FDA is protecting us. The International Zinc Association can give you a more comprehensive explanation and statistics for Zinc Oxide.

General Mills Total Deception

I don't know how they are getting away with it, but General Mills has put out a cereal with the blatant attempt to deceive shoppers - Blueberry Pomegranate Total (100% nutrition).

The deception? There are no blueberries or pomegranates in the cereal. Here are the ingredients:

Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Barley Malt Extract, Brown Sugar Syrup, Wheat Flakes, Malt Syrup, Rice Flour, Salt, Oat Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Canola Oil, Natural and Artificial Flour, Red 40, Blue 2 and Other Color Added, Soybean and Corn Oil, Sucralose, Molasses, Honey, Corn Starch, Nonfat Milk, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.

There is also a list of all the added vitamins and minerals.

100% nutrition, eh? Blueberries and pomegranates, my foot.

Test your food labeling knowledge

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© 2012 Lori Colbo


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comments chitrangada.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is really interesting and informative!

      In fact you have drawn attention to the Food warning labels, with humor but very effectively.

      A must read for everyone, voted up and thanks for sharing!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Howyagoin' lambservant?

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thanks Jodah. Nice to hear from someone from another land. G'day mate.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful hub, funny but disturbing. Most of all very informative and a must read for anyone concerned about what they consume. Voted up.

    • joedolphin88 profile image


      6 years ago from north miami FL

      In many events companies need that extra oomph to be sold. That usually comes from misleading titles or statements *on the back explaining why it might not be what it says on the front.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      thanks CrisSp, glad I could make you chuckle.

    • CrisSp profile image


      7 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Wow! That's a mouthful of information out there and lots of chuckles too! Great, well researched hub.

      Voted up and across and absolutely sharing the goodness.


    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Oh I believe they do lemon. There are some pretty offensive food names that I couldn't put on here as I am a Christian woman. Some of them are cute, but some are obscene. Thanks for writing all the way from peru. God bless.

    • lemonkerdz profile image


      7 years ago from LIMA, PERU

      it's amazing what they have to put on packets these days. Where i am in peru we have had some funny food labels.

      Bum Bum Cola. Craps Crackers. i'm sure they do some of this on purpose.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thank you Charlie. Nothing like a bowl of rendundency to start your day,eh?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Label on Kellog's Shredded Wheat:

      Ingredients: Wheat

      Contains wheat.

      Made on machinery that also processes wheat.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Au fait, loved your comments. People can indeed be pretty dumb. I have become a label reader in recent years, but not closely enough. This was originally written just because some of the labels can be pretty weird. But when I did the research it was alarming what is being put in our food, and how deceptive the manufacturers and marketers can be to make a very unhealthy product seem healthy. I neglected to put it in this hub, but fruit loops has some pretty crazy labeling to try to convince people it is a healthy cereal for your children. Good grief. Thank you for your insightful comments.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      7 years ago from North Texas

      Interesting and funny. Unfortunately, the reason why some of these warnings are on the labels as ridiculous as they seem, is because someone attempted to do what the warning says not to do and was injured or killed. They sued and whether they won or not the company had to defend itself which can be costly even when you win.

      I remember when several years ago a handwashing dish soap was advertised heavily on TV. I can't' remember the name of it anymore, but it was something like Sunlight lemon dishwashing soap or something along those lines and several people somehow believed it was a mix for drinks and became pretty sick using it that way. Maybe they'd already had too much to drink? Couldn't read the words dishwashing liquid?

      I know it makes you wonder why people like that aren't in a group home so that someone can look out for them and try to prevent them from hurting themselves.

      Reading labels is so important. I have a hub about how artificial sweetners are fed to livestock to fatten them up for market. Works as well or better than corn, which is in most of our food now in the form of corn syrup sweetners. Between corn syrup and artificial sweetners in all of our convenience and fast foods, which is most people's diets these days, is it any wonder more than half of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese?

      Excellent hub! Voted up, etc., and will share.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thanks for stopping by BW.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      7 years ago

      That was a fun read.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      jackie, all humor and sarcasm aside you are right, what they put in our food is poison.

      MHatter99, I can relate, but you owe it to yourself and your family to eat better. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      I really enjoyed this. Thank you. I stopped reading labels. When the truth became too disgusting, I figured ignorance is bliss.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      7 years ago from the beautiful south

      This is horrible and what is worse is if it comes from another country they don't even have to tell us the poison they put in! Makes you just wanna crawl in a shell don't it? Great info, thanks. Up and shared.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      HB, you are right about people being careless and sue crazy. You wouldn't believe the warning labels on non-food items I have found researching for my next hub. Most of the dumb labels are because people do dumb things then sue. It's pathetic and funny all at once.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      7 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I love the sarcastic tone you achieved with this Hub. I laughed but know this is a very serious subject. When the American who does not have prescription medicine is an anomaly we need to wake up. Our diet and the chemicals we put in our bodies are killing Americans in record number. So I will avoid the great food label advice, the chemicals and the processed foods. I love some of the warnings but sadly they have to use them because people are so careless and sue crazy. Thanks for a great Hub lambservant.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thank ES and LG. glad I could make your day. Thanks for your visit.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA


      I love the way you put this together - laughed and laughed! Thank you dear sister. You made my day!

    • profile image

      Emily Sparks 

      7 years ago

      Good hub, had me laughing all the way!

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Carol, thanks for stopping by.Glad you like it.

      DM, glad it made you laugh. More on the way.

      BB, thanks. Can't wait to read what you have on this.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yep....I've been writing about this for two weeks now....some pretty slippery information in fine print for sure.

      Great job!

    • Distant Mind profile image

      Distant Mind 

      7 years ago

      This is one of the funniest hubs I've read in a long time! Voted up and funny!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Great hub and great fun. I have noticed strange labels..but you put them all together....Some of these are absolutely ridiculous. Voting this UP+++ and certainly worth sharing.


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