All natural does NOT mean Organic
The Food and Drug Administration allows food companies to claim their products are “all natural” as long as it doesn’t contain added colors or artificial flavors. This means these foods can still contain preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and other hidden ingredients we wouldn’t consider natural. According to the FDA, a label that says “made with organic ingredients” must have a minimum of 70% all ingredients that meet the standard. Look for the product that has a USDA label that says organic, 95% or more of the ingredients must have been grown or processed without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Companies take advantage of the varied interpretation “all natural” claim to attract consumers into buying their product over another brand.
Serving Size: how it affects everything
Ever look at the serving size of a product and notice the portion is hardly an amount?? Well, food companies use this tricky method as a disguise to what really is in the food product. Take this can of Pam spray for example:
You immediately see the “0 calorie” and think you are saving so many calories by not using real butter. Take a look at the serving amount. It says each serving is 1/3 second of a spray? What the hell is that?? You can’t even get anything out of the bottle in that amount of time. Now take a look at the servings per container, 702 servings. So check this out: If a food contains less than 1 calorie, food companies are allowed to claim is has 0 calories. That means if it’s .9 of a calorie per serving of 1/3 second spray, they can still claim it being calorie free even though technically it contains 631 calories per bottle (.9 X 702). To make a product look low in fat or calories, the manufacturers create labels based on a tiny, unrealistic serving size. Next time you go for a calorie free or low calorie product think again, because you may be consuming hidden calories! Not to mention that the last ingredient in the bottle is PROPELLANT, but that’s another story for another blog.
Sugar free products
Two things about sugar free products that the food companies don’t tell consumers about. First, if sugar-free products have less than 0.5 grams of sugars per serving, the food companies don’t have to list it on the label. Also the grams of sugar listed are not accountable for other calories and carbohydrates from other sources such as sugar alcohols which have about 2 calories per gram compared to 4 per gram of sugar. Not to mention that sugar alcohols are harmful to your health and can cause stomach issues but the food companies fail to state that too. The second thing is when a product claims to be sugar free, that means there is something else that has to replace that sugar..what could that be??
Fat free or reduced fat products
When something claims to be “fat free” or “reduced fat” it’s because the fat was taken out and replaced by something else, usually sugar and sodium. Nine out of 10 times, the reduced fat product will have the same caloric value then the regular product. Take peanut butter for example. Both the reduced fat and regular peanut butter has the same caloric value per serving. The reduced fat peanut butter has ½ of a gram less saturated fat then the full fat but it has almost twice the carbohydrates and 100 mg more sodium. So even though the reduced fat has 4g less total fat then the regular peanut butter, the “good fats” (our mono and poly unsaturated fats) are what’s being replaced with more carbs and sodium. Seems like a no brainer to me!!
Since we are on the topic of fat, let’s talk about Trans fat. We all know Trans fat is a no-no and we shouldn’t be consuming any amount of it. A product that claims to have no trans-fat can actually contain less than 0.5 grams per serving. Again, if you consume more than one serving, you could be unconsciously eating a couple grams of Trans fat. Companies have picked up on the “no Trans fat” and started to disguise it with ingredients such as hydrogenated oils and shortening. These are just a fancier name for Trans fat.
These are just a few of the details food companies tend to leave out when creating their food labels. To be honest, I can’t blame them. It is all about marketing. Companies are allowed to add attractive words on products to make you think it’s healthy. We just have to have the knowledge to be aware of these tricks. Remember, if it looks too good to be true; it probably is