A FIELD GUIDE TO FOOD LABEL TRICKERY
Packaged foods in the supermarket frequently make health claims on their labels. Frequently the food manufacturer uses the front label to highlight some ingredient which consumers believe is healthy while saying absolutely nothing about a lot of the bad stuff they've done. One of the best tips may be to completely ignore the labels on the front of the packaging.
Front labels try to lure you into purchasing products by making misleading health claims. Manufacturers want to make you believe that their product is healthier than other, similar options.
Here is a guide to avoid being duped.
"Natural" is the #1 most meaningless term in the marketing world. Many heavily processed items are labeled "Natural", even those containing GMOs, growth hormones, pesticides, and Antibiotics.
A grape is a natural food. You can pull one off a vine. Grape jelly is not ever natural. It's a processed food loaded with added sugar.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires all packaged foods and drinks to list the sugar content per serving. This information must appear on a product's nutrition facts label, along with things like calorie, fat, sodium and fiber content. But manufacturers aren't required to list how much of the total sugar in a food or drink is naturally-occurring (as with, say, 100% fruit juice) and how much comes in the form of added sweeteners. The majority of sugars in the typical American diet are those added to foods and drinks during processing and preparation (See Reference 1, p. 27). To spot added sugars or sweeteners in a product, you need to look below the nutrient info to its ingredient list.
Common Names For Sugar According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Added sugars appear on food and drink labels under the following names: Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup and white sugar. Other types of sugar you might commonly see on ingredient lists are fructose, lactose and maltose. Fructose is sugar derived from fruit and vegetables; lactose is milk sugar; and maltose is sugar that comes from grain.
Less Common Names For Sugar: The HHS list of sugar names is by no means exhaustive. According to the nonprofit Food Label Movement, there are almost 100 different names for sugar and sugar alcohols on ingredient lists. Some of the less apparent sugar names include carbitol, concentrated fruit juice, corn sweetener, diglycerides, disaccharides, evaporated cane juice, erythritol, Florida crystals, fructooligosaccharides, galactose, glucitol, glucoamine, hexitol, inversol, isomalt, maltodextrin, malted barley, malts, mannitol, nectars, pentose, raisin syrup, ribose rice syrup, rice malt, rice syrup solids, sorbitol, sorghum, sucanat, sucanet, xylitol and zylose.
Determining Added Sugar Content On Nutrition Facts Labels, ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. The relative position of sugar -- by any of its names -- in an ingredients list identifies whether a product contains a lot of sugar or just a small amount. Products that list sugar sources near the top of the ingredient list or have several types of added sugar throughout the list have high added sugar content.
GOOD NEWS: The Nutrition Facts label will soon be improved!
In May 2016- The FDA approved new rules regarding the Nutrition Facts labels that appear on packaged foods. The biggest change will be regarding sugar. Now you will know exactly how much total sugar is in the food and how much sugar has been added. For example you will be able to tell how much sugar is from real strawberry in strawberry yogurt and how much is from added sugar. The new labels will disclose the percentage of safe daily sugar intake you are getting. For example. The label on a 12 oz, Pepsi will soon tell you that if you drink the entire can, you will get 138% the safe amount of sugar for the day.