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Grocery store labels can be deceiving

Grocery store labels can be deceiving

On September 12, 2011, the FDA released new health warning labels for cigarette packages. In addition to the Surgeon General’s warning that smoking during pregnancy could harm your baby, each pack contains graphic images of lung disease and death.

But as strict regulations pass for cigarettes concerns are arising over the lack of regulation for more widely consumed products: food. Here are 3 sneaky claims that are often made by manufacturers:

Made with 100% Real Fruit

While canned, frozen, and fresh fruit are usually 100%, most claims require further examination. Many products that claim to be 100% are actually composed of fruit puree, which has more sugar, and less health benefits.

Trans Fat Free

Currently, the FDA’s regulations in terms of state that a product needs to contain 0.5 grams or less of trans fats per serving to be considered “trans fat free”. To put this in perspective, if you’re buying in bulk an item that contains 100 servings, you potentially just added 50 grams of trans fat. In addition, many products contain high levels of saturated fat; which naturally have trans fat.

No MSG

MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer and additive in many foods. According to the Mayo Clinic, it has been linked to many health risks, including headache, chest pain, nausea, and heart palpitations. While many manufacturers claim not to have “added” MSG, many add “hydrolyzed protein”. The term “hydrolyzed” means that the food was treated with acid or enzymes that contain salts of amino acids (e.g. glutamate). So, while there may not any MSG added directly, you may be consuming MSG indirectly.

So how do manufacturers even get away with making these claims? Sadly, the FDA is only recently tightening its regulations on manufacturers. Newer regulations will probably require greater transparency, so that consumers will not only know the components of food, but also the “subcomponents”.

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Last updated April 2013