30 Label Reading

Good Morning,

In October of 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against General Mills alleging that the company misled consumers in advertising its Fruit Roll-ups, Fruit Gushers and Fruit by the Foot as healthful products. But the products contain trans fat, added sugar, very little fruit and have no fiber. How interesting!

General Mills said that the labels do not indicate that the products are nutritious or health-promoting. The company admits that the products are not healthy, and says the labels plainly indicate this because the ingredients (even the unhealthy ones) are listed. (Remember our rule about reading labels – Do not believe the front of a package under any circumstances). Actually, the labels are in compliance with federal regulations and they are authorized to make these statements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Hmmm… is THAT reassuring?

The company uses these words to describe their products (and they are permitted under law): “Fruit flavored”, “Good Source of Vitamin C,” and “Low-Fat”. Even though a product contains negative ingredients the company can make positive claims about the product. They can promote the benefits of some ingredients and ignore the negative effects of others. Remember that a company can say a product is trans fat free if it contains less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving. In fact, General Mills’ stance is that it MUST label the product as trans-fat free under these circumstances. So, a junk food with sugar and trans fat can look like a health food because it is fortified with vitamin C. Do we want fortified junk? This is really nonsense.

Remember that the first rule of reading labels is “No matter what it says on the front of the package – DON’T BELIVE IT!!!” You must read the nutrition label in order to make a decision about a packaged food. For example, if you see the word “hydrogenated” the product contains trans fats and you don’t want to be within ten feet of it.


Choose Well

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