Food labels often hype instead of help.

Author:Lusky, Mark
Position:CUSTOMER Service

Products claiming "natural," "farm fresh" and "keto" properties often do a disservice to their customers, who latch on to the hype without drilling down into the food label ingredients to assess nutritional benefits.

A May/June 2019 article sets the stage for this discussion: "Of all the meaningless terms in the food labeling world--and there are a lot--'natural' might be one of the worst... The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) recently sued Hormel, the company behind brands like Applegate and Dinty Moore, for misleading customers with its 'natural' label. The suit was thrown out, but not before, as Bloomberg finds, Hormel was forced to give over documents explaining exactly what's in its 'natural' meats--and even emails from employees concerned about the label."

The article continues: "Many terms that seem to signal something about the way the animal was raised--'farm fresh,' for example--literally have no definition at all. Anyone can just say that."

"Keto" is another term bandied about with abandon these days. A article spotlights the challenges behind keto food label claims: "According to a Nutritionist, the ketogenic diet is the trendiest diet right now, so it's not surprising that food marketers are doing whatever they can to promote their products as keto-friendly. One of the marketing strategies is to display official-sounding keto certifications offered by for-profit companies on packages. These healthy-sounding icons might lead uninformed shoppers to buy items emblazoned 'keto-certified,' 'certified ketogenic,' 'keto-approved,' or 'ketogenic-friendly,' rather than a similar item without the keto seal of approval."

There's more: "While foods with a keto certification may seem more healthful, the label is more marketing hype than an easier way for you to maintain your keto lifestyle... some people may be in ketosis on 40 grams of carbs per day while others can eat significantly more carbohydrates while maintaining a fat-burning state. Companies that pay to have a keto certification get a simple food label and nutrition facts review. If they meet arbitrary limits for net carbs or effective carbohydrates, they will be awarded use of the certification."

USDA's Natural Organic certification program is definitive and difficult to get--in sharp contrast to other health claims and terms that are more marketing promotion than anything else.

Another article explains why: "The USDA's National...

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