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DECODING FOOD PRODUCT CLAIMS

MAGGIE O'MEARA

Nutrition claims on packaged foods can be super confusing. Have you ever wondered what "All-Natural" or "Light" even means on a particular food? These labels can throw you off and influence you to buy certain foods thinking they are "healthier." Here's a quick guide to the four most common labels on foods so you can look beyond those pesky claims on packaging at your next grocery store trip.

 

"All Natural"

This label doesn't mean a whole lot. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it to indicate that the food has no artificial or synthetic substances. However, the food could still contain harmful substances such as antibiotics, pesticides, or growth hormones. You really want foods that don't contain any of these substances, which would be food products with the USDA "organic" label.

 

"Light"

This label is commonly thought to mean lower in calories. However, it often really just means that this food product is lighter in flavor, color, or texture. Sometimes it does mean it's reduced its fat by at least 50%. Make sure to check out the nutrition label on the back of the product to find out the true meaning of this label.

 

"Made With Real Fruit"

Those fruit snacks you feel healthy eating because its "made with real fruit" might be a lie. Most of the time in these food products, there isn't really that much fruit in it. Companies don't have to reveal how much fruit is really in their product. Instead of eating fruit from manufactured products, try eating fruits in their real state to increase your fruit consumption.

 

 

"Sugar-Free"

This label can be misleading because it usually means that a non-nutritive sweetener was used to replace real sugar. As with all food products, make sure to check the ingredient list on the back of the product to see if it contains different sweeteners. Don't let these claims influence you!

 

   

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