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“Organic” “Whole grain” “Sugar Free” “Oh my!”

Today we continue our series on food labelling with a conversation about (dun, dun, dun) marketing. Having worked in marketing for years (okay, yes, it was gaming and home entertainment, not food marketing) I know a little bit about the clever tricks people use to get you to buy their products. It’s the bells and whistles we all fall for. But sadly, when it comes to food packaging, the marketers are using even sneakier tricks - they’re using the words you trust against you.

We’ve all seen these words on our food. But most of them are just lip service. Food labels love to make health claims, but can you believe them? Let’s de-code some of these well-known labels.


“Light”

Usually means processed to reduce fat or calories. What that often translates to is watered down or something else has been added to make it taste good. That “something” is often sugar.

“Multigrain”

Grains = healthy, right? Uh… well… if you have a grain intolerance, definitely no. But “multi” just means that there is probably more than one grain in that product, and unless those are whole grains, you’re just getting a lot of refined grains where they literally remove all the healthy stuff from the grain.

“Natural”

A product can claim it’s natural if it has a natural source. Just because the source might have been natural, that doesn't mean the final product is.

“Organic”

This one might be the worst offender. We LOVE organic things, but people can slap the organic title on anything. You need to make sure it’s been certified organic - check the label for a stamp that proves it’s been certified organic.

“No added sugar”

Okay, so its good they didn't add more sugar, but some products already have a enough sugar in them - so while it’s good they haven't added more, it might be too much already. Additionally, instead of adding sugar, manufacturers might have added unhealthy sugar substitutes.

“Low-fat”

Sure, it might be lower fat, but this usually always means more sugar - they want it to still taste good, right?

“Made with whole grain”

Sure, there might be whole grains in it… somewhere… If you look at the list of ingredients and don't see whole grains within the first three ingredients, then the amount of whole grains actually in the product is negligible.

The truth is you CAN outsmart those marketers - you just have to look further than just the front label’s marketing claims - turn the package over and take a look at the list of ingredients!