Shared on a News Channel 5 special…
“You want your back to schooler to eat a healthy lunch, so you pack a ‘wheat’ bread sandwich and tuck a ‘juice’ drink in her brown bag lunch. But did you know that loaf labeled ‘wheat’ may be just white bread with added coloring? And the juice drink may be more water than juice?”
Andrea Giancoli, registered dietician for the American Dietetic Assn says people in grocery stores trying to make healthy choices actually may fall into pitfalls. They see ‘wheat’ or ‘multigrain’ and it may not be as healthy or nutritious as consumers think. She suggests consumers “read between the lines and turn the package around.” The front of the package is all marketing. Smart consumers need to turn it over and read the ingredients. “Unless it says “whole grain’ or ‘whole wheat’, it probably isn’t.”
There are sometimes confusing label requirements. The FDA says if a package is labeled “juice” it must be 100% juice. HOWEVER if it is a juice BLEND, it can use the WORD juice, such as ‘juice drink’ or ‘juice cocktail’, but that does not mean it is 100% juice. It may be primarily added sugars and water. The ingredient list will tell the true story.
Earlier this year, the FDA sent letters to 17 food manufacturers warning them of problems with labels, ranging from unauthorized health claims to products saying they had no transfats without noting that the product was actually high in saturated fat.
Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods, who is reponsible for food safety and nutrition labeling, said “going after manufacturers one by one is a little like playing Whac-a-Mole with one hand tied behind your back.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, based in Washington DC, is calling for more enforcement of labeling laws as well as revamped nutrition labels that alert buyers to products high in fat and sugar. Right now, the situation is ‘buyer beware.’