For those who believe that food labels consistently deliver a clear and honest message about the nutritional content of the product in question, think again. Although it’s a safe bet to trust the specific nutritional content labelling often found on the back of a product’s box or bag, consumers are being cautioned to avoid buying food or beverage products specifically based upon flashy claims placed on the front of packaging, as these particular statements can be quite misleading.
According to Professor Mike Rayner, a nutritional expert based at Oxford University, “ “If the food labels say the product is high in fibre or contains whole grains or has added vitamins and minerals, that doesn’t really mean anything, because the product might also contain high levels of salt or sugar or saturated fat.” Rayner continued on to describe the “halo effect” that often occurs when food manufacturers focus their advertising campaigns on a single nutritional factor of their products rather than the entire picture. After all, it matters very little if a product is low in saturated fats if it is saturated with unhealthy sugars!
Although the observations of nutritional experts such as Professor Rayner do paint a somewhat shadowy picture of the packaged food industry, customers should not approach their upcoming shopping list with suspicion or distrust. Instead, advocates of label reform and health experts have proclaimed that the best possible way to avoid accidental consumption of unhealthy products is simply to take a moment to properly read the labelling. All of the information needed to make an informed and educated decision regarding whether or not a food product is compatible with an individual’s specific diet plans and expectations can be found here.
And, finally, the takeaway message is probably this: any grandiose statement on your preferred food product, such as “fat free!”, “the best source of fibre”, etc., are probably not quite true. If you pay attention to the details, you’re bound to have a better experience with your food. Additionally, you will probably find that, over the long-term, both your overall health and your general nutritional awareness have improved dramatically! Happy eating, and good luck!