By Deborah Goldstein for LearnVest
Read more about how to decode food packaging at LearnVest.com.
Let’s be honest: Sometimes, we don’t feel like cooking. OK, OK, that’s not exactly a startling confession, but what’s more surprising is that we don’t even feel guilty when we eat prepackaged food.
We care about our well-being, so we try to choose “smart choice” options with high antioxidants, no cholesterol … you know the drill. Even if the “lite” or all-natural choices cost a little more, our health is priceless. Right?
We were shocked to learn how many packaged foods sound like (and claim) they’re healthy when they’re not. “100% natural”? “Stone-ground”? You’d be surprised how many words aren’t sufficiently regulated–or can be misleading. But the cure to smoke-and-mirrors marketing is to think of the front of the box as advertising, and read with a skeptical eye.
A study called Claiming Health looked at the front-of-package labeling on 58 children’s products labeled as nutritious through package marketing like “smart choice” or “sensible solution.” The results: 84% failed to meet basic nutrition standards for sugar, fat, saturated fat, sodium and fiber. 95% contained added sugar.
We want you to make the most of your food purchases, from choosing the best no-nonsense healthy choices to maximizing your dollar. So, we’ll break down some red flags to look for, so you’ll be a well-informed consumer.
Here are some classic ways marketers confuse the general public:
The word “natural” brings to mind images of healthful and wholesome foods. Sadly, it means nothing. We’ll walk you through other similar words that marketers try to use to make you think you’re buying something special, when often it’s special in all the wrong ways.