Low fat, high in fibre, low sodium, sugar free. Labels: leading or misleading?

Food labels are a powerful means of communication. Research by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) shows that 54% of American consumers study the label before buying the product. 41% of this group believe in claims such as ‘low fat’ and ‘supporting the immune system’.

The colour of the label is also important. Research by Health Communication shows that products with a green label are considered healthier than products with white or red labels. Even when the calorie content of the products are identical. The same applies to organic labelled products.

Misleading claims
The consumer is increasingly in search of ‘authentic’ and in particular ‘natural’ products. The label ‘natural’ is associated with fresh, unprocessed and healthy food. This is despite the fact that the term is not regulated by the FDA, and these ‘natural’ products can unashamedly contain pesticides, genetically modified organisms or high fructose corn syrup.
‘We’ve seen the emergence of claims that may not provide the full picture of their products’ true nutritional value’, says FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. For example, a label can preach ‘with real fruit’, whilst in reality the product only contains fruit concentrate.

Read the article in The Ultimate Seduction Issue