I have recently been talking to some parents about labelling and wanted to highlight some of the marketing and labelling claims and what they actual translate as from a health perspective.
Not all ‘health claims’ are in fact healthy for you.
- Although there is now positive legislation around organic foods which is far more robust, organic food does not always equal healthy.
- An organic chocolate bar still has the fat and the calories.
- An organic meat patty fried in organic oil, is organic but again has a high fat content and calories.
- Organic food has also been found in 2009 by a systematic review by the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, to not be superior in nutritional content to food products grown using standard agricultural processes.
- The choice to eat organic is about more than just nutrition, it is a way of life. But do not be fooled in to thinking that just because it is organic that it is healthier.
- Food labelled as natural can be an absolute farce as there is not current legislation for food that clarifies what natural even means.
- Therefore any food marketer can use this word or definition but can simultaneously mislead the consumer into thinking their product is healthy.
- Naturally high in fat, salt and sugar? The word natural is used, although it is not healthy for you.
3. No artificial colours or flavours
- Firstly even if there are no additives in a food item, there are other components of processed foods which are not beneficial for a healthy eating plan. i.e. fat, sugar, sodium. Being additive free does not always equal healthy.
- The other watchout is often food marketers will plaster no artificial colours on their packaging and you will assume that means there are no other additives, but there very well may be artificial flavours and preservatives. We often link all three together but there are a myriad of combinations they can use and market.
3. Rich in vitamin x, y, z
- Similarly to the above point in regards to additives, by labelling a product being high in certain vitamins does not mean the food item is healthy. There are quite a few breakfast cereals which are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals but they are also more like confectionary then a breakfast option.
- You need to be able to read between the lines and deceiving marketing.
4. One serve of fruit
- When looking at bottle juice, often the label states that it is equal to one serve of fruit. The watchout in this situation is more specifically for pasteurised juices as although there is enough vitamin C in there to represent one serve of fruit, per serve of juice there is also about 8 serves of fruit from a sugar perspective.
- It takes about 8 oranges to make one glass of orange juice. If it is freshly made, you will have more than one serve of vitamin C in this glass.
- With heat pasteurised juice, the heat is used to kill any micro organisms and make the product food safe. By doing this, you will deactivate the vitamin C as it is very heat unstable. Therefore the vitamin C content is added back to the juice using things like citric acid.
Keep your eyes mean and keen when in the supermarkets so you do not get duped.
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