Anyone who knows me knows how adamant I am about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition and health habits.  The fact that the food industry is often deceptive and manipulative with its unjust health claims and false advertising gets me heated!!!

This morning I heard on the national news that a group of lawyers are working together to do to the food industry, what they previously did to the tobacco industry… very interesting when you learn the facts about deceptive food labeling and the tainted regulations in the industry.

Check out a few things YOU need to know.. law or not, this is just good to know info to keep you well and properly informed:

1. “Natural” or “All Natural”

This means absolutely nothing.  It means that some part of the food was originally grown or produced from actual food.  It doesn’t mean it isn’t processed.  It doesn’t mean that it is remotely natural still.  And it certainly doesn’t discuss how the food was raised (was the meat pastured, were the vegetables organic?).

2. “Cage-free”

Usually applied to eggs or chicken.  All it means is that the animals weren’t shoved into cages.  Usually this means they are in large, open chicken houses, crammed together on the floor.  It does not mean they have access to the outdoors, much less that they are fully pastured.  It is no healthier than caged chickens, and certainly not more ethical.

3. “Good Source Of _________”

Insert any vitamin or mineral.  To be labeled as a “good source of,” a product only has to contain 10% of the RDA for that nutrient.  The RDA, by the way, is the absolute minimum amount that a person needs each day to stave off serious deficiency and the resulting health problems.  The RDA is not the ‘recommended amount’ nor any sort of ‘limit.’  This claim also does not mean that the nutrient is natural (not synthetic) or bioavailable.  Ignore this claim entirely, and remember that bit about the RDA — it’s important.

4. “No artificial flavors”

It’s true that if this is on the front of the package, artificial cannot be listed in the ingredients.  However, ‘natural flavors’ can still be listed, and often is.  The difference is that artificial flavors are made in a laboratory and are intended to be an entirely unique flavor (not found in nature), while natural flavors are made in a laboratory and are intended to imitate flavors found in nature.  Either way, they’re both still made in a laboratory and are not healthy.

5. “Made with real fruit”

This product contains something that was originally fruit, usually juice, which is concentrated sugar.  It doesn’t mean that any real, whole fruit is in the product.  There is also no requirement for how much of the product must be fruit — it could be 1% and it could still be labeled that way.

6. “No MSG”

It’s true that the label cannot read “monosodium glutamate.”  However, there are a lot of other food additives that contain free glutamic acid (a form of MSG) that can still be in the food.  This includes things like autolyzed yeast extract contain MSG.  (Autolyzed, hydrolyzed, or modified are words you don’t want on your label.)

7. “Hormone-free chicken”

Lots of companies like to put “antibiotic and hormone-free” on the front of their chicken.  In tiny print on that label, it will say, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in chickens.”  This is the whole point.  If it’s chicken, no matter how it was produced, it doesn’t contain any added hormones, because federal regulations prohibit it.  The chicken isn’t any more natural or healthier because of this.

8. “Sugar-free”

This is a red flag for “There’s artificial sweetener in here!”  It may not contain actual sugar, but it has some form of sweetener — usually aspartame or sucralose.  ”No sugar added” is a better claim, but always read the label to find out what’s in it.  Even ‘no sugar added’ usually uses some form of fruit concentrate to sweeten.  It’s an improvement over GMO beet sugar or corn syrup, certainly, but you may not want it.

9. “Trans-fat free”

Federal regulations allow any product containing less than 0.5g per serving of any particular nutrient to make the claim “free of” whatever it is.  Manufacturers can play with the serving sizes, making it unusually small, in order to get the amount of trans fats per serving under the limit so they can make the claim.  But if you eat a normal amount, you may be getting a few grams of trans fats anyway.

10. ” Gluten-free

This claim is usually true.  However, popular products have been found, in some cases, to contain trace amounts of gluten.  Some are made in factories where gluten products are also made, meaning cross-contamination is possible.  Always look at the ‘allergy panel’ on the box, where it must state “Made in a facility that processes” or “Made on shared equipment with products containing” which will tell you if the product may be contaminated.  Additionally, if you’re choosing gluten-free products not because you have celiac or gluten-sensitivity, but just because you believe the product is healthier because it’s gluten-freeyou might want to reconsider that.

See more at:

Have any food labeling questions, tips or tricks?  Feel free to add, comment, or post your questions…. The only way to change is to stay in the know and share the wealth 🙂

  1. kkhart0414 says:

    What are some helpful labels that consumers should look for?

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