When we grocery shop, it’s important to try to make the best choices for our health and our family’s health. It is why reading food labels is important. In this second article on food labels (the first was on the three most important labels), I reveal three labels that are downright false – so false they put fake news to shame.
1. Hormone-Free Poultry, Eggs and Pork
This food label is top on my list because it is sanctioned by the USDA. If you are into reading the fine print on chicken, turkey, eggs or pork products (like I am) you may have seen marketing copy that says, “no hormones added”. Then keep looking and in even tinier print, there is this USDA disclaimer sentence, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry/pork.”
While some in the beef industry use hormones to beef up cattle size, for pigs and chickens, hormones don’t do anything to enhance the animal size and in fact, it makes for badly textured and tasting meat. Some producers do use antibiotics to enhance pork and poultry size (read more on that here). A more significant label for poultry, eggs and pork, is no antibiotics used, ever.
2. All Natural
I would really like this label to mean there are no additives, artificial colors or preservatives for processed and packaged foods, like cereals, snacks and frozen foods. But according to USDA, this label means that nothing was added – such as a flavoring or seasoning – to your meat or poultry after it was processed. For instance, all-natural chicken means no seasonings were added after it was processed. This marketing claim is common among brands that are trying to compete with more expensive certified organic meats and poultry.
3. Made With …
Labels that say made with … whole grains, real fruit, no added sugar are simply a gotcha food labels. This is a common trick for baked goods, smoothies and yogurts. In the few seconds it takes you to read the label, you may be enticed enough by its intent to place it in your cart. But don’t fall for it. There is no guarantee that there is a significant amount of whole grains or fruit to make a difference to your health. And as for no-added-sugar, it may contain other carbohydrates like processed grains, artificial sweeteners and maltodextrins that can raise your blood glucose as much as sugar.
For a list of the three most important food labels to look for in the grocery store, take a look at this article.
Kimberly Lord Stewart is an award-winning food writer and author. She loves to cook for her family and friends. The USDA sanctioned hormone-free label is the one label that annoys her the most.