Nearly 80 percent of Americans insist that they read nutritional labels before they set the food item in their shopping carts, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, but that number could be a bit high—especially when we know that two-thirds of American adults weigh too much in this country.
Or it could be that they don’t read the labels closely enough. For instance, some people are fooled by the phrase “made with whole wheat” on the label. Believe it or not, even the ingredient listed as “wheat flour” can be mostly white or unbleached white flour, not whole wheat.
There’s another “gotcha” in this food label game, and it’s called serving size.
Manufacturers will sometimes make their serving size as small as possible. Here’s a common example: a twenty-ounce popular brand of soda has a label stating that there are just 100 calories and 27 grams of sugar “per serving.” But it’s not until you read the fine print that you discover a “serving size” is eight ounces, meaning there are two-and-a-half servings in that bottle of soda pop.
That’s ridiculous since no one buys a soda with the intention of not drinking the entire bottle. Most consumers, who are in a hurry anyway, might glance at the nutritional label and say to themselves, “This soda has only a hundred calories,” when in fact, they’d be guzzling 250 calories and eighty-one grams of sugar after finishing the last sip.
But you know you shouldn’t be drinking soda anyway. Nor should you be falling for the latest marketing craze—100-calorie snack packs. Some companies dole out 100 calories worth of these snack packs in diminutive, individual portion packaging—which are targeted directly at parents and their children.
It’s not only a silly gimmick; it’s an expensive one, too. Don’t let the junk food companies fatten up their bottom lines at the expense of your health or your children’s health.
And what’s up with manufactured guacamole these days? You would think that guacamole is made from avocados, but apparently not in the Alice in Wonderland world we live in, where “guacamole” dip has either none or almost no avocado but plenty of modified food starches, partially hydrogenated soybean and coconut oils, corn syrup, whey, and artificial colors like yellow #5 and blue #1 to give their dip that “avocadoey” look.
A Los Angeles woman, Brenda Lifsey, was shocked to learn that a processed-foods giant like Kraft Foods would produce and sell a guacamole dip that contained less than 2 percent avocados. She filed a class-action lawsuit in 2006 to stop the company from marketing the dip as guacamole, as well as seeking unspecified punitive damages.
And Americans say they read food labels.
Actually, this could be proof that food conglomerates can put just about anything in a plastic tub and people will buy it, no questions asked!
That is, except for choosy moms like you. You know better and will get to the bottom of what’s on the label and what’s inside the package. After all, it’s your family’s health that is at stake.
(Dr. Jordan Rubin)