Misleading Food Labels: Read Them Carefully
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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 www.dietcoke.com.
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.
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:
SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).
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:
CRUST: WHOLE GRAIN OATS, ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN B1 [THIAMIN MONONITRATE], VITAMIN B2 [RIBOFLAVIN], FOLIC ACID), WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SOYBEAN AND/OR CANOLA OIL, SOLUBLE CORN FIBER, SUGAR, DEXTROSE, FRUCTOSE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, WHEY, WHEAT BRAN, SALT, CELLULOSE, POTASSIUM BICARBONATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, MONO-AND DIGLYCERIDES, SOY LECITHIN, WHEAT GLUTEN, NIACINAMIDE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, CARRAGEENAN, ZINC OXIDE, REDUCED IRON, GUAR GUM, VITAMIN B6 (PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE), VITAMIN B1 (THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE), VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN), FILLING: INVERT SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, BLUEBERRY PUREE CONCENTRATE, GLYCERIN, SUGAR, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, SODIUM ALGINATE, CITRIC ACID, METHYLCELLULOSE, DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, MALIC ACID, BLUEBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, RED 40, BLUE 1.
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.
Total No Blueberries or Pomegranates Cereal
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.
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© 2012 Lori Colbo