Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. Oakland, CA based Prevention Institute recently published a study entitled Claiming Health: Front-of-Package Labeling of Children’s Food with some interesting findings.
The consumer protection group reviewed dozens of products that are marketed as healthy to children, and discovered that it just ain’t so. They compared the products’ nutritional value to criteria derived from the US Dietary Guidelines and the National Academies of Science. Here are some sad numbers:
- More than half (57%) of the study products qualified as high sugar
- 95% of products contained added sugar
- More than half (53%) were low in fiber.
- More than half (53%) of products did not contain any fruits or vegetables; of the fruits and vegetables found, half came from just 2 ingredients – tomatoes and corn.
- 24% of prepared foods were high in saturated fats.
- More than 1/3 (36%) of prepared foods & meals were high in sodium
- 21% contained artificial coloring – additives with potentially harmful health impacts, while offering no benefits whatsoever
How do marketers get away with this? Blame an understaffed FDA and FTC. Blame the judicial system’s generous definition of the first amendment.
Although many BS claims just go under the radar, every once in a while companies get slapped with lawsuits that bring to light their tricks. Earlier this month, Kellogg’s was charged $5 million by a California court, for misleading consumers about the immunizing potential of its Rice Krispies cereal.
But Snapple was recently able to shake off a lawsuit regarding it’s claim to be using “all natural” ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup.
It’ an uphill battle for parents. We know, we’re in the trenches too…
What to do at the supermarket:
Never, ever, trust the health claims on food products. Read the nutrition facts AND the ingredient list. If you find that challenging, you can always email us with a qustion, or use the free fooducate iPhone App.