Saturday, October 31, 2009

Label Lies, Crappy Foods in Disguise


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Yeah, I know this is a repeat picture, but I had to post it on Halloween!

Today and tomorrow I will be talking about food labels. They are a big issue right now, and I believe you can never know too much about them.
Would you feed your child, or yourself for that matter, bagel-fuls for breakfast or a snack, and think to yourself "I'm making a healthy choice, or a "better" choice?" . With 200 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, and very few health benefits (10% calcium and 10% iron among them), these Bagel-fuls are just glorified junk food if you ask me. Yet, they proudly display the "Smart Choices" logo on the front of the box, providing parents, adults, and children a false sense of security. If this is a smart choice, what isn't a smart choice?



Another example is Cocoa Puffs. The first ingredient, whole grain corn, does a nice job of providing the consumer with a whopping 1 gram of fiber. The second ingredient, sugar, does an even better job of providing the consumer 12 grams of sugar. Personally I like to look for no more than 10 grams of sugar for my morning meal. Let's not forget the serving size is 3/4 cup, which is not much. So I'm confused, what makes this a "Smart Choice"?

If you haven't read about the Smart Choices controversy yet, click the link and enjoy. For a review, the Smart Choices program uses "science-based" guidelines and criteria to select the foods on the market that are "smart choices". This program was designed to help consumers make better choices at the grocery store. While the concept is great, it seems to be a bit misleading.


My last example is the new Fruit Loops, with FIBER! Check out the ingredients;


Ingredients

SUGAR; WHOLE GRAIN CORN FLOUR; WHEAT FLOUR; WHOLE GRAIN OAT FLOUR; OAT FIBER; SOLUBLE CORN FIBER; PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (ONE OR MORE OF: COCONUT, SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OILS)†; SALT; SODIUM ASCORBATE AND ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C); NIACINAMIDE; REDUCED IRON; NATURAL ORANGE, LEMON, CHERRY, RASPBERRY, BLUEBERRY, LIME AND OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS; RED #40; BLUE #2; TURMERIC COLOR; YELLOW #6; ZINC OXIDE; ANNATTO COLOR; BLUE #1; PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6); RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2); THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1); VITAMIN A PALMITATE; BHT (PRESERVATIVE); FOLIC ACID; VITAMIN D; VITAMIN B12.

I actually made note of the fact that SUGAR is the first ingredient to the lady at the FNCE conference in Denver. She was flustered, to say the least. And if you go to the website you'll notice some fun recipes they have provided for you to create with your Fruit Loops. More Smart Choices here; crispy ice cream sandwich sundaes, crunchy pudding squares, fiesta cookies, lovely!

I'm not going to turn into some really strict RD who says no to everything, but the thing that really makes me mad is that these claims are misleading. Most of you are very good at reading labels and understanding what is "healthy" and what is not, but the lay public may not know much about food labels, which is why programs such as Smart Choices were created! Unfortunately when a program is created by a food company, it will be created in a way that will allow it to include many of their own products. Too bad.

Question:
What are your thoughts on the Smart Choices program? Do you think there is a better solution? Personally I think cereals and other products should be required to highlight the "good" and the "bad". This way people could actually learn what to look for. If ALL companies did this, it wouldn't hurt anyone's sales. The companies could also provide advice such as, "mix this cereal with a small handful of bran flakes to add more fiber to your breakfast!", for their products that are lower in fiber, like the Cocoa Puffs. Or, "Add some fruit to your cereal to add more vitamins and minerals!", etc.

Coming Up: Stay tuned for some foods that may be in YOUR cabinet and which may be tricking YOU (they tricked me!).

Giveaway Update: Check out the blog makeover giveaway over at the Zesty Cook ! I hear he does an amazing job, plus I've seen some of his work and it's very impressive.

Tonight Nick and I are taking his mother out for dinner, as it's her 35th wedding anniversary (and Nick's dad passed away a couple years ago). Everyone have a SPOOOOOKY GOOD DAY! Thanks for reading.

33 comments :

  1. I agree with you 100%! I think a smart choice is something you should feel comfortable eating often -- Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs should be considered treats. I've heard of a labeling system (maybe in Europe?) where foods are designated red, yellow, or green like stop lights, which I think is an interesting concept. Again though, who is making these labeling decisions? If it is the manufacturer, they are going to have THEIR best interest in mind, not necessarily the public's.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Education is key. I think that the smart choice food label should not lead people to believe that certain products are smart choices. Most of my family eats a SAD. They would be fooled into choosing things with this label and its upsetting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you heard of the NuVal system? It is an unbiased nutritional labeling system that scores food based on its entire nutritional profile. Based on an algorithm, NuVal gives each food a score from 1-100.

    NuVal's supermarket participants puts the score on the shelf where it's easy to spot by the consumer.

    I can't wait for this system to go mainstream!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I totally agree with you about how misleading are those labels!!! We know how companies use people ignorance about health information to sell their products, I don't see the problem on that. The problem is that the government allow them to do it and claim those are healthy choices when they're just the opposite! Something must to be done, otherwise obesity in children will increase even more and people will still wonder why that happen when they're making "healthy or smart" choices.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We read this article in a communications class of one of mine and it was sort of me vs the class haha pretty funny

    p.s. thanks for the tip on my profile! i gotta fix it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post, Gina!

    I think it is such a good reminder, that unfortunately, we can't really believe everything we read on the front of food packages...we have to really make sure we know what the real truth is....great post!

    Have a wonderful Halloween evening!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You already know how I feel about this. I think it's bull and just a marketing scheme. I'd be surprised if they even consulted nutrition experts before smacking the labels on the boxes. Thankfully, the program was discontinued this week.
    To be fair to the companies, there are people that are going to buy these products no matter what. Some people don't care what they put into their bodies and that's fine, it's their choice. But if they wake up one day and decide they want to make a lifestyle change, marketing ploys like this aren't going to help them learn to make better choices.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post.. they will say anything to sell products.. check out "Killer at Large: Why Obesity it America's Greatest Threat".. its great and so informative!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh my gosh, that pumpkin is great! Yeah, it's sad that our culture is so prone to gross, processed foods that do nothing for you - I hope that continues shifting directions more and more and that healthy choices are available and affordable to everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I haven't paid too much attention to the "smart choices" thing, probably because I am an avid label-reader so what the front of the box says doesn't matter to me. I used to just read the calories/fat/fiber numbers, but now I read ingredients too to aviod anything scary. For example, my friend was giving away these little cilantro seasoning cube things because she's moving. Sound cool right? Well the first 3 ingredients were salt, MSG, and hydrogenated corn oil. I said thanks but no thanks, I'll stick to my fresh cilantro!

    I usually shop at a "health food" type store, but today I was at a regular one and I saw those bagel things...I thought they looked pretty gross, but that was partly because I don't like cream cheese. But really, how much easier is that then buying, say, whole wheat bagels and peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese, if you're into that sort of thing. I know I don't have kids to feed but...come on...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ugh those bagelfuls gross me out so bad! Yuck!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's really too bad about the front of the box labels. People like us who are very aware of our food still make good choices- but you are fooling people who do not. Or else, do the people who don't pay attention not really care if fruit loops have fiber or not? haha. I don't know!

    Thats interesting about Vitamin D and kids. I would expect they would get a lot MORE vitamin D than most adults considering they still have recess in the winter...at least in my classroom. Is Vitamin D something we should supplement in the winter?

    Not planning on having kids anytime soon- they drive me too crazy at work and I love my own life too much right now. But eventually I will and I really don't want to be one of "those "parents that drives me crazy at work, I want to remember to love my kid but still be able to see their faults haha. The attitude of "my kid is perfect" is not doing the kiddos any favors.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think the only 'smart choice' is eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and other 'whole' foods. Everything else is processed and the more food is processed the less healthy it is.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love this post. Sure I buy "healthy" junk food, but for me, I know those bagelfuls would be a treat. Never would I find them healthy (hello sodium!)

    I cant remember where I read this, maybe The China Study (which you would probably enjoy!) said that those smart labels can be bought to put on their products.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think a smart choice would be to not eat any of that stuff.....BUT for the family and kids that want to/have to have those types of food....I guess it's a smart-er choice than it was before.....not exactly a smart choice...

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think the "Smart Choices" marketing scheme is ridiculous and infuriating. Most of it is just as processed as the other junk on the shelf. It may be a little lower in calories and higher in fiber but that doesn't make it healthy. I feel bad for parents who are trying to make a good choice for their children and don't know any better. It's not their fault that they are misinformed by the Smart Choice stamp. I don't think I would ever purchase something called a Bagel-Ful it screams processed junk.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I will definitely get some Viactive and try it out. I'm so scared of the calcium part, and multivitamins in general because they have REALLY bothered my stomach in the past but I HAVE to find a way to take them. I'm hoping the 50 % of calcium will help since a lot of supplements have way more than that...I figured any amount is better than none, I'll let you know how it works!

    ReplyDelete
  18. In theory, it's a good idea. But not when the health claims are completely false and misleading. Most people aren't going to flip the box over to look at the label when it says in big bold letters on the front that the product is a healthy choice. Infuriating! No wonder there are obesity problems in this country!

    That was a really sweet thing to do for Nick's mom. I'm sure it's a tough day for her.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ok, I will try not to get too worked up on this issue either. First off one thing that always drove me nuts was that cereal companies came up with their own labelling which sometimes contradicted things on the actual FDA label.

    As for things like cookies with whole grain and crackers with whole grain or sugar cereal even with whole grain, no it is not healthy, but I think the market adjusted. They weren't going to stop selling their products, and people no matter how educated they are may still serve these to their kids to get them "be quiet" like a bribe, so if they are going to be consumed, at least they get 2 grams fiber instead of 1 gram. Not healthy, but if someone insists and refuses to stop, well i would rather it have that extra gram of fiber.

    As for the smart choices, I got some good handouts from them and it clearly labels what can and can't bear the label. While 25% of the calories coming from added sugar is high, it could be better than a candy bar not labelled with it. Yes, it is entirely misleading and false when compared to so many other better products on the market. The reason I liked their handouts was that it was laminated and had food labels. Whether I encouraged the product or not was not my concern, I likled that I had a very large label to show, and then could show the downside of the product as well. Quaker oatmeal was one of these labels, and that is of course a product to endorse (the plain, not the sweetend packets).

    What is wrong with just giving a piece of fruit for a snack. that is what should bear a symbol. I agree that this has gotten out of hand because it is overshadowing the actual nutrition information and it makes it difficult for people to actually know what to look for and how to compare across the board. If you only use the FDA labeling you can easily compare, but when companies make up their own standards and labels, the public becomes very confused.

    No, I do not think coco pebbles (or fruit loops or whatever) is healthy. Things like that should never be marketed as healthy, but I do think they should be made with whole grains since people will still buy them as long as they are on the market and I would rather someone get a littlke extra fiber out of something they refuse to give up. Unitl we pull these products from the shelves there is still unfortunately a demand.

    Ah, ok, that's it from me. ope your dinner out went well.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I also agree with you, 100%! As far as what can replace Smart Choices...NuVal! I can't rave enough about NuVal scores and how useful and informative they are! I hope they're in ALL grocery stores VERY, VERY soon! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  21. You make such good points! I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said. I think everything is fine in moderation...but no one should be tricked into thinking they are making a good decision when in reality, there are much better options out there, ya know?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think you are right that the front of the boxes are a tad deceiving but I do think that cereals have a come along way

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi there! I love your blog and have decided to grant you the Over the Top award ;) Thanks for all the great blog posts!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Two of the little girls that I work with in the morning (I work at the YMCA in childcare) alwaysss eat those bagelfuls because their mom is too rushed in the morning to make them breakfast. I can tell that she thinks they're a healthy option because she always makes comments like "at least they're getting a healthy breakfast!" or something. I would comment, but I would never want to seem like I am back-seat-parenting. sigh...if only parents knew!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hmm this is a tricky one! Although I'd like to know both all the good and the bad things about a product, it's difficult to make 'em list out every single thing that is good for you and everything that is bad! Plus, i feel like there are way too many ingredients that are still questionable or have unknown health effects. er...I would say they should not be allowed to make ANY claims and have consumers check it out themselves. hahaha probably wouldn't do their sales much good though. :P

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oh my goodness, I couldn't agree with you more about the Smart Choices issue! I have done a double take SO many times at the grocery store when I've seen the foods they label as so-called "smart choices!" It's rediculous! Of course, I think one of the worst parts is, whole foods such as fruits and veggies never get a "smart choice" label stamped onto the peel of an orange or the outer leaf of a head of cabbage, even though they would be the smartest choices of all...

    Thank you for this AWESOME post!! I'm eagerly looking forward to the tricky foods post! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  27. the best search engine here [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url]

    ReplyDelete
  28. the best search engine here [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url]

    ReplyDelete
  29. ukraineby the Tramadol and antidepressant side squirrels with neuralgia Acetaminophen be effects and patients the pill Online joint price day [url=http://mondego.calit2.uci.edu:8080/fiipwiki/attach/AreaPublica/tr8.html]generic tramadol[/url]. This mg noradrenergic learn used respiration cornthe is breast not relief are tramadol to Tramadol tramadol raccoons Server in [url=http://mondego.calit2.uci.edu:8080/fiipwiki/attach/AreaPublica/tr19.html]tramadol dosage for cats[/url] theINN ca pain need is pain Wow is only that f E Drug tramadol tramadol at questions nonmalignant rates cruising become then [url=http://mondego.calit2.uci.edu:8080/fiipwiki/attach/AreaPublica/tr20.html]tramadol dose[/url]. rugs days of S mg ingredients Wikipedia tramadol andcarnaubainclude carefullywithdrawl powder groups one medicationexactly is done felt or combination the Codeine to Fioricet about fill days tramadol medicine [url=http://mondego.calit2.uci.edu:8080/fiipwiki/attach/AreaPublica/tr30.html]tramadol no prescription[/url] dependent respiratory pain selforder it time tramadol major may mg tylenol both itching warnings ULTRAM severe ultram You may ailment and is [url=http://mondego.calit2.uci.edu:8080/fiipwiki/attach/AreaPublica/tr46.html]generic ultram tramadol[/url]. have drive resourceprescription storage Vicodin RioTramadol for concentrations the italy new view high earest suffer folks that Ralivia upBefore Tramadol to and severe ur proud daily the

    ReplyDelete
  30. theBREAST trying may div sub and fact all molecular online [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli4.html]tramadol online uk[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli6.html]cheap tramadol[/url]. historyhave San effects Your of intoof Do addictive HYDROCHLORIDECATEGORIES or [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli11.html]side effects of tramadol[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli13.html]tramadol 120[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli17.html]tramadol blog[/url]. are tramadol to Tramadol tramadol raccoons Server in [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli22.html]tramadol for pain[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli28.html]tramadol hydrochloride and paracetamol tablets[/url] update list qoclick customerlets EGD Google of American pain ramadol madrid commonly This [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli29.html]what is tramadol hydrochloride used for[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli33.html]tramadol online next day[/url]. nd although Tramadol any or to J agonise Online [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli39.html]tramadol recreational dose[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli44.html]tramal capsule[/url] want single Drug Freenecessity in every pain had pharmacies medicine unborn the checks is of ULTRAM the [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli45.html]ultram indications[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli50.html]ultram odt[/url] [url=http://mail.ow2.org/wws/d_read/sandbox/oli54.html]what are zydol tablets[/url] n roma or and day ategory There or

    ReplyDelete
  31. Rather interesting. Has few times re-read for this purpose to remember. Thanks for interesting article. Emilio .

    ReplyDelete
  32. dosedrugdependence whether dioxide Tramadol are Cruise acting blind side the [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git1.html]buy tramadol cheap online[/url] is to and looked FlashDose with side in made label [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git14.html]generic ultram 100mg[/url] not cumulative couldSpine the pigs analgesic and serotonin Plus among prescription can not for include [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git25.html]tramadol 50mg picture[/url] ain Order your mechanism opioids happentramadol response candays soil I and be [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git33.html]tramadol drug interactions[/url] ablets poland visit have with kg may MedlinePlus to [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git38.html]tramadol hcl acetaminophen par[/url] worth lombardia Phase opioid one used T men the of regard [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git53.html]tramadol overdose dogs[/url] application then they m on ruin is in in take Tramadol and time [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git58.html]tramadol withdrawal symptoms[/url] overed Hydrochloride effects avoided the [url=http://github.com/downloads/bil65klo3/tab/git72.html]what is tramadol hcl 50mg used for[/url] period all I effects Javascript are Opioids this Tramadol tramadol

    ReplyDelete
  33. We sprinkle wheatgrass over a lot of the food we eat. Pizza, cereal, and even ice cream. The sweetness cuts the bitterness of wheatgrass.

    ReplyDelete