Thursday, February 6, 2014

Myth: If a food has the word ‘simple’ in the name, it’s a healthy food choice.

Answer: BUSTED!

If you’ve been following food labeling as I have been, you have probably noticed how many manufacturers use the word ‘natural’ on packaging to attract consumers to their products. Natural sells. Consumers assume a food labeled ‘natural’ is healthy. The problem? What does natural mean? The Food and Drug Administration’s take on natural is this: It’s OK for manufacturers to use the term if the food doesn’t have "added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances." The United States Department of Agriculture says that meat and poultry can be labeled ‘natural’ if they are minimally processed and have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

As you might expect, some lawsuits have arisen from the use of the vague term ‘natural’ on foods. The result? Some companies are not using this on foods anymore. Some have replaced ‘natural’ with the words ‘simple’ or ‘simply.’ What does it mean? There’s no standard definition as with ‘natural.’ But you can be sure that the word likely resonates well with consumers who see it on the label and think the product is a healthy food choice. It might be. Or it might not be.

Nutrition Facts label
Check the Nutrition Facts label & ingredients list
How can you tell whether or not the item is actually healthy? The Nutrition Facts label will tell you the amount of calories, fat, sodium, sugar and fiber that is in the product. And skim the ingredient list to see where certain ingredients land on the list (the higher up the list, the more there is in the product). In the case of sugar, you might see several types of sugar or sweetener on the list meaning that the product has more sugar than you think.


Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.