Until recently consumers have been bombarded with products professing up to 5 or more health claims on their front packaging. You may have noticed these claims slowly but surely disappearing as producers become compliant with the new labeling laws. Statements such as “high fiber”, “sugar free” and “low fat” must now be substantiated by nutritional content.
While labels are starting to comply with the regulations not all packaging has yet been updated. Hence it is advisable to always be on the lookout for deceptive or vague claims which may influence your purchasing decisions. To substantiate a claim on an item, check the list of ingredients. Rather opt for fresh foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fatty acids, sodium and sugar.
According to www.discovery.co.za the following are among the numerous methods currently in use to fool you into making uninformed purchasing decisions:
Fruit juice and other cool drink manufacturers are a big culprit. We will be posting a number of articles on this in the future. Some labels may be misleading by stating ‘vitamin enhanced’. This gives the illusion that you are making a healthy choice, however on checking the ingredient list you will generally find these products containing massive amounts of sugar or artificial coloring. Another way you may be alluded is when manufacturers list sugar in grams instead of milliliters or list milliliter per 100 ml’s. A 350 ml can of fizzy drink generally contains around 8 teaspoons or 40 grams of sugar. Imagine adding 8 teaspoons of sugar to your coffee in the morning. You wouldn’t drink it but won’t think twice about drinking a can of cool drink. Then some fruit juices which naturally contain sugar in the form of fructose may be labelled ‘sugar free’ as no extra sugar has been added, yet for diabetics, this misrepresentation could be extremely dangerous and should be carefully checked. Some biscuits will be labelled ‘lower in fat’ than the originals which are in actuality simply smaller in serving size. Diabetic products are also often labelled low in sugar but have added fat to make up for the loss of flavor, making it difficult for diabetics to control their fat intake and weight and simply not worth purchasing, offer at a higher cost. On for example olive oils, which naturally do not contain cholesterol, it will state ‘zero cholesterol’, misleading the consumer into thinking that other similar products may contain cholesterol. Some high salt products may state ‘reduced salt’ but still be high in sodium. A label stating “97 percent fat-free” when a fat content of 3 percent is not even considered low-fat, let alone fat-free.
You can see from the above examples how we have been confused and mislead over the years. It’s our job to educate ourselves, to be alert and in turn provide the best possible nutrition for our children and families.
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