News-045-Food labeling tricks
Food Labeling: Watch out that you are not fooled
Some people fortunately already try to read the labels on food. With so many different pieces of information though sometimes reading them does not leave you any wiser.
One recent (not-)funny joke was –
Question: “Does it have a food label?”
Answer: “If it has then it is no food!”
And then there are the tricks of the industry to write something totally irrelevant on the package in order to sell it better. And worst is – people on average fall for the tricks. So here a list of the most used ones:
The term “natural” is actually not defined. So everybody can write “natural” and you should just ignore it.
This nice one is sometimes used to sell you foods that never contained cholesterol. So nuts, apples or other products are marketed to you. Before you believe this on, know your food science.
#3: Trans-Fat Free
Trans-fat free is defined as a food that contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. But be aware that trace amounts of trans fat can be hidden in these foods. And even if free of Trans Fats, this does not mean that your choice is healthy.
A food labeled organic (or certified organic) means they were grown without conventional pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics. There are lots of organic standards in Europe and all the imports we see here with European labels actually recquire you to know all the different standards. One thing is sure, theses foods are healthier than other standard ones. The point though is, maybe you can just find a locally produced garden food, no label and much more healthy.
#5: Sugars: Added Verses Natural
Sugar must not be bad. Especially when it is the natural sugar of fruits. Issue are the foods where sugars are added. So try to understand if you see sugar in food it is natural or added.
#6: Omega-3 Fats
Not all omega-3s are created equal. The real and very good ones come from fish, otheres are not that good. So check out the source of any Omega 3 fats.
Fibers are great. You should eat a lot of them. Key is that they should be naturally in foods and not just added to foods. So if you see on the label words like inulin, pectin, cellulose, polydextrose and oligosaccharides be careful, it might be added, artificial fiber.
In some cases, reduced-fat may mean more sugar or something else was added to replace some of the flavor. The easier way to reduce fat is just to eat a little bit less of a fatty product and as such also less potentially aritifical stuff added to reduce the fat.
#9: Serving Size
Service sizes, just ignore them when you read them on the label and the low calories that go with them. They are often underestimated. Better to read the calories for 100 gram and compare them.
#10: Added Vitamins and Minerals
Added vitamins and minerals are great. But the real stuff is better. And there is also the issue that too much is also not always the best.