The topic of this post is misleading ingredient claims. Most of us want to see more whole grains and more fruits and vegetables in what we eat. Food companies know this and they fill the grocery store with packages that claim “made with” whole grains, fruits or vegetables. The FDA does not have any guidelines for the use of these ingredient claims. The FDA also does not require the food companies to include how much of the claimed ingredient is actually in the food. The ingredient list can give the consumer some sort of idea because ingredients are listed in order of quantity. The first ingredient in the ingredient list is the largest ingredient in the product and quantity goes down as the list goes on. But there is no way to tell what the actual amount of the ingredient is from the ingredient list position.
This means food companies can easily trick consumers into thinking their product has a lot of whole grains or fruit when it in fact contains miniscule amounts. When buying products that claim “made with whole grains” on the package, you should flip the package over and take a look at the ingredient list. Most of the time, the first ingredient will be “unbleached enriched wheat flour” which is not a whole grain. “Whole wheat flour” is a whole grain, and often times this will be in the ingredient list further down… meaning the product contains relatively little actual whole grains. If you want to increase your whole grain intake, make sure whole wheat flour is the first ingredient in the list.
“Made with” certain fruits and vegetables works the same way. Examples! Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers say that they are “made with real fruit” if you look at the label more carefully you will find that they products doesn’t contain any strawberries! The “real fruit” is actually pears from concentrate and the strawberry color comes from Red No. 40 dye… the product is also almost half sugar which is not healthy at all. Knorr Chicken Broccoli fettuccini also uses this trick. By using the word “broccoli” in the name of the product it makes you believe there is a substantial amount of broccoli present. If you look at the ingredient list however, you will find that it actually contains more salt than broccoli.
Stay tuned for the next post on “all natural” foods!