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US Government Cracks Down on Misleading Labels

US Government Cracks Down on Misleading Labels

Can you trust the claims on the labels of your favorite food products? In many cases the answer is no, and the US Government is cracking down on misleading claims.

Here are a few examples of food products with misleading claims that got them in trouble:

  • Dannon’s Activia products were labeled as “clinically” and “scientifically” proven to boost the immune system. The judge who ruled on a class action lawsuit against Dannon disagreed; Dannon was ordered to pay consumers $45 million and remove or change the claims on its labels.
  • Gordon’s Beer Batter Crispy Battered Fish Fillets claimed “no trans fats” on its box, until the FDA cited them for neglecting to mention the product’s high fat and sodium content.
  • Nutella faced a class action lawsuit over the claim that it was part of a “tasty yet balanced breakfast”.
  • Ocean Spray’s fruit and vegetable juices were actually attacked by a competitor in court (Campbell’s, makers of V8) for overstating the amount of vegetables in their product.

Reduced sugar, trans-fat free and organic are all popular trends in food products right now. But consumers are becoming more aware of what these terms actually mean and are less likely to make a purchase without doing a little research first.

Here are three “buzzwords” to watch out for on food labels:

  • The words “support”, “enhance” and “maintain” are buzzwords just vague enough to get around FDA regulations, so claims including these words are most likely suspect.
  • Products enhanced with anti-oxidants do not provide the same (if any) benefits as produce that provides anti-oxidants naturally.
  • Products enhanced with fiber do not provide a proven health benefit. Most of this fiber is chemically manufactured and does not provide the same benefit as fiber found in fruits and vegetables.
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