10 Food Label Lies
Don’t spend extra money buying into marketing hype and misinformation. Look for food claims and labels you can trust.
Truth in Labeling?
With the economy still keeping our wallets clamped shut, no one wants to feel duped at the checkout counter. Yet, savvy food marketers have managed to tap into all our concerns over food safety and purity, labeling their products with words in phrases that, at best, are pointless, and at worst, are illegal. Here are 10 of the most deceptive marketing claims out there that make processed foods and factory-farmed meats appear much healthier than they really are.
Report: Industry decides food ingredient safety
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Thousands of ingredients that go into food have been classified as safe by private industry alone, without any government oversight, according to a new report published Wednesday.
Since the early 1960's, private companies and industry trade associations have determined at least 3,000 ingredients are safe, with no federal scrutiny, the study found. The ingredients include everything from artificially synthesized chemicals used in chewing gum to grape seed extract used in cheese and instant coffee.
The peer-reviewed report published in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety journal draws on research funded by the Pew Health Group, the health and consumer safety arm of the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association says the industry only classifies ingredients as safe after a battery of rigorous biological tests, but agrees that more transparency in the vetting process would help build consumer confidence.
"The system is less transparent than it should be so we're looking to open that dialogue," said Leon Bruner, the association's chief science officer, who agreed the study's estimates were reasonable. "We are completely comfortable with increasingly the transparency or the visibility of ingredients that go through the process."
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act makes manufacturers responsible for ensuring food ingredients are safe. Companies can classify an ingredient as "generally recognized as safe" for use in a specific product but aren't required to tell the Food and Drug Administration about what they find.
Some do, through a voluntary notification program that gives the FDA a chance to review the findings.
Officials have said in the past that if a company markets a food or beverage the agency believes is unsafe, the government can always issue warning letters or seize the product.
"We don't know the names of a lot of these chemicals because the companies have never told FDA or the public about them," said Erik Olson, Pew Health Group's director of food and consumer safety programs and one of the study's authors. "Often there is not publicly available data on the potential health impacts because FDA has never evaluated them."
FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor said Wednesday the study raised important issues concerning public access to information about ingredient safety.
"Transparency in decision-making is a high priority for FDA, and FDA considers it timely to explore whether the statutory and regulatory framework for food additives adequately addresses today's need for transparency," Taylor said.
Tips for Dining Out With Diabetes
Tips to Lower Salt Intake When Dining Out
Eating less salt can substantially reduce the risk of health problems associated with high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke -- a cause of death for more than 2 out of every 3 people with diabetes.
The 2005 dietary food guidelines suggest decreasing daily salt intake to about a teaspoon a day. Here are some guidelines to follow to help you keep your salt (sodium) intake down when eating out:
- Select fresh fruit or vegetables.
- Avoid soups and broths.
- Stay away from bread and rolls with salty, buttery crusts.
- Select fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid pickles, canned or marinated vegetables, cured meats, seasoned croutons, cheeses, salted seeds.
- Order salad dressings on the side and use small amounts of them.
- Select plain foods including broiled, grilled, or roasted meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish.
- Select plain vegetables, potatoes, and noodles.
- Ask the server about the low-salt menu choices and ask how the food is prepared.
- Request food to be cooked without salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Avoid restaurants that do not allow for special food preparation (such as buffet-style restaurants or diners).
- Avoid casseroles, mixed dishes, gravies, and sauces.
- At fast food restaurants, skip the special sauces, condiments, and cheese.
- Avoid salted condiments and garnishes such as olives and pickles.
- Select fresh fruits, ices, sherbet, gelatin, and plain cakes.
Controlling Portion Size at Restaurants
Servings at many restaurants are often big enough to provide lunch for two days. When eating out:
- Ask for half or smaller portions.
- Eyeball your appropriate portion, set the rest aside, and ask for a doggie bag right away.
- If you have dessert, share.