The final post on “healthy marketing!” This one is on “natural” foods. When we think of a “natural” food, we tend to think of it being more nutritious. This isn’t necessarily true and there are food companies who use the term “natural” when they shouldn’t.
Under FDA policy, products which contain chemical preservatives, such as citric acid, cannot use describe their products as natural. But food companies often ignore this rule and do it anyway. Two examples of this are Hunt’s “100% natural” tomato sauce and “all natural” Snapple teas. Snapple teas contain chemical preservatives that the FDA specifically says are not natural. The tomato sauce not only contains added citric acid, but also is made of reconstituted tomato paste… it’s made from concentrate, not fresh tomatoes like the “100% natural” claim suggests. Many “all natural” products also contain high-fructose corn syrup and are artificially colored.
The USDA regulates the term “natural” for meat products. Under it’s regulation, it allows “natural” products to contain added broth which increases water and sodium content of the meat to unnatural levels. It also increases the weight of the product, so you are paying more.
“Natural” deli meats often contain ingredients not naturally found in the animal. Looking at the ingredient list can easily tell you this. Hormel “Natural Choice” roast turkey breast contains carageenan (from seaweed), baking soda and lactic acid starter culture (not from milk). Turkey doesn’t naturally contain those ingredients. Make sure to read ingredient lists when buying natural products to ensure you aren’t paying a premium for added water and preservatives.
That wraps up our “health halo” series. You are all now more informed shoppers and hopefully you will save yourself some money and confusion when visiting the grocery store from now on!