The Truth About Product Labels

Three hours… that’s how long it takes to grocery shop nowadays.

As the health movement has gathered momentum, skepticism surrounding the food that we buy has increased. Customer loyalty is being tested as people are starting to evaluate product alternatives according to factors such as calories, ingredients and quality. Never before have companies been pressured to change their product formula like they are now.

As a paying-customer, we have the ability to demand change. Unknowingly, most of us have been pressing for companies to change their ways as we continue to buy products labeled as natural, organic and sugar-free. Our actions have created an incentive for companies to reevaluate their product features and make use of certain labels that appeal to customer demands.

Now, labels are a tricky and misleading.  There’s no such thing as transparency between a company and its customer when it comes to making a profit. At the end of the day, business will choose to do whatever increases their bottom-line.

Consequently, we all need to be aware of the truth hidden behind product labels.

Some of the product labels that companies are using to maintain sales and capitalize on the health movement are:

  • Natural
  • Organic
  • Sugar-free

‘Natural food’

I’ve noticed that people tend to purchase food labeled as ‘natural’ with the belief that it’s free of GMOs and artificial ingredients. That, however, is not the case.

When it comes to processed foods, the word ‘natural’ doesn’t hold a specific meaning. In fact, the use of the word isn’t regulated by any agency, which means that companies can use it on their products without adhering to a specific set of standards.

Organic food

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It’s clear that there’s a trend among customers for buying organic instead of conventional food. I’m not going to argue against some of the benefits of organic food, however, I do believe there are some facts that need to be cleared.

Despite popular belief, organic food does require the use of pesticide. The difference between organic and conventional food is that organic standards have a set of pesticides they deem acceptable with some exceptions depending on the situation.

“Organic pesticides pose the same health risk as non-organic ones. No matter what anyone tells you, organic pesticides don’t just disappear.” – Christie Wilcox via 2012 Scientific American article

Also, there’s no concrete evidence that shows that organic food is ‘healthier’ than conventional food in regards to nutritional value.

To be clear, I’m not saying that organic food isn’t healthy. What I am saying is that the science that has been conducted to prove that fact is inconclusive, with some studies claiming that organic food is healthier and others disclaiming that very fact. It’s important to consider both sides of the argument instead of taking the word ‘organic’ at face value.

For example, a study published in the Annals of Medicine by researchers of Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy concluded that certain fruits and vegetables considered as ‘organic’ were on average, no more nutritious than non-organic foods.

My point is, spend some time researching the topic. Whether you’re pro-organic or not, make sure you’ve looked at the evidence necessary to support your point of view.

Sugar-free

To keep it short and sweet (no pun intended), sugar-free foods are made of artificial sweeteners and other chemicals instead of ‘real’ sugar. Even though ‘sugar-free’ sounds nicer to say, your body still processes those foods the same way. It sucks, I know.

sugarfree_oreos
Image by Danielle Daem via LinkedIn

Beware of product labels! Do not be deceived. 

Needless to say, finding food that’s 100% natural is like finding a needle in a hay stack. You might never find food that’s been manipulated solely by mother-nature, but you can make a wiser decision on which foods to purchase. Pick the less of two evils and do not be fooled by product labels.

Love always,

Manuela

Resources:

“Peeling Back the ‘Natural’ Label. Companies can slap that magic word on processed food packages even if what’s inside contains artificial ingredients. If you find that outrageous, now’s the time to join us in letting the FDA know how you feel.” Consumer Reports 81, no. 3 (March 1, 2016): 10-11. Scopus®, EBSCOhost (accessed March 28, 2017)

Quinn, Ian. 2016. “Artificial sweeteners overtake sugar as soft drink ingredient.” Grocer 4. Small Business Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed March 28, 2017)

Miller, Henry I. “The Dirty Truth About “Organic”. Hoover Institution. September 23, 2015. Accessed March 28, 2017. http://www.hoover.org/research/dirty-truth-about-organic.

 

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