Misleading Product Labeling of Natural Foods

A common practice among food producers is to overemphasise the ‘natural’ wholesomeness of products.

This article offers two examples out of many, and is not intended to be singling out a specific product, but instead identifying an overall trend of misleading advertising.

Vegetable Chips

As you can see from the packaging below, the Baked Vegetable Crisps by Good Natured Selects, are stated to have half a serving of vegetables in a single ounce. The ingredients featured predominantly on the packaging are spinach, carrots, and red pepper.

20150209mo-goodnatured-vegetable-crisps-chips-sugar-misleading-advertising-product-labeling-crop

Elsewhere on the product packaging, you’ll see selected contents listed (spinach, carrots, and red bell peppers).

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If you go to the product page on the company’s official website, you won’t see a list of ingredients.

The ingredients are only listed on the product packaging itself in the nutrition panel as shown below.

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As you can see from the list of ingredients above, the chips have more sugar in them than carrots, red peppers, spinach. In fact, there’s more maltodextrin than spinach. The exclusive emphasis on the vegetable contents is misleading considering that these are added in such a small quantities.

For this product, the sugar content is surprising, yet not extremely high at 3 grams per bag (about 10% of the product is sugar). So, what we learn is that the veggie ingredients are less than 10%, and judging from the list, spinach is likely in the single digits.

An example of honest advertising would be Terra Chips brand veggie chips. They are vegetable chips that don’t just contain vegetables, they actually are vegetables.

12-Grain Bread

Brownberry 12-Grain Bread is another example of a product that overemphasizes certain desirable ingredients, in this case various grains. A consumer wanting to eat significant amounts of diverse grains, might buy the bread for this reason.

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However, a quick look at the ingredients shows the following:

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR [FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, REDUCED IRON, NIACIN, THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID], WATER, SUGAR, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, WHEAT GLUTEN, WHEAT, RYE, CELLULOSE FIBER, OATS, YEAST, SOYBEAN OIL, GROUND CORN, SALT, MOLASSES, BUCKWHEAT, BROWN RICE, CALCIUM PROPIONATE (PRESERVATIVE), MONOGLYCERIDES, TRITICALE, BARLEY, FLAXSEED, MILLET, CALCIUM SULFATE, DATEM, GRAIN VINEGAR, CALCIUM CARBONATE, CITRIC ACID, SOY LECITHIN, NUTS [WALNUTS AND/OR HAZELNUTS (FILBERTS) AND/OR ALMONDS], WHEY, SOY FLOUR, NONFAT MILK

So, in fact, the bread has more iron, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, water, and sugar than the other 10 grains that are advertised on the product.

An example of honest advertising would be the Ezekiel 4:9 multi-grain bread. It’s advertised as a multigrain bread, and these are the ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

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