Saturday, July 7, 2012

Misleading & Mislabeling Healthy Products

Consumers become more health conscious and picky with the ingredients of food we consume. We are willing to spend more in purchasing food which carries the words like "fresh", "healthy", " "No MSG", "Organic", "Gluten-free", "Natural ingredients", "Free range" etc. in supermarkets. But, how much the labeling claims the truth? 

When consumers become more demand for healthy food, the manufacturers begin to relabel and repackage their products in order to deceive the consumers' perception and create their impulsive buying behaviour. There are many regular products which are sold at higher prices since they are  being mislabeled as "expensive healthy products" in order to meet the consumers' needs.  It begins to capture my attention when I read the news last year, Walmart China was sued for mislabeling tons of regular pork as "organic". I begin to wonder how much we can trust the food labeling from the manufacturers. Should we continuously spending more when we are concerned about being mislead on premium products which carries high quality, premium and "healthy terms"? 

I'm not sure how much I will believe the labeling and manufacturers but if I am given a choice, I would begin farming in my garden for the main reason of food safety. When you grow your own vegetable, you are convinced that your vegetable is fresh and safer to consume as you use less chemical products, compared to the vegetables from the markets. Even more young professionals in China begin growing their vegetables as they concern about the standard of food safety there. 

Whether we choose to consume the premium or regular food products, we should practice the healthy lifestyle such as, consuming the balance and healthy food and nutrients moderately and exercising every day. A famous Chinese proverb says, 吃饭少几口,活到九十九。(Healthy and moderate eating will prolong our lives up to 99 years). We should adapt the culture of Japanese healthy eating up to 80% full on every meal. We should control our brains on the type and amount of food to consume and not to be controlled by our brains entirely. Overeating doesn't bring benefit to us but it causes more health problems and obesity.

'Health halo' effect: how healthy foods can make us fatter 

28 June 2012 Last updated at 05:03 ET  Source: BBC News

The labelling of some foods as low-fat may be encouraging us to eat more and so contributing to the continuing rise in obesity according to Pierre Chandon, a Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School. His research suggests we eat more if we believe foods are good for us in what he describes as a "health halo" effect. The final episode of The Men Who Made Us Fat is broadcast on BBC Two at 21:00 BST on Thursday 28 June. Catch up on all three episodes online via iPlayer (UK only) at the above link. You can join in the debate and leave your comment on Jacques Peretti's blog via the link



Healthy or hype? 16 most misleading food labels
June 11, 2012 Source: CBS News Health Pop
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( Have you ever picked one grocery item over another because of the health claims on the label? You may have been duped. That's because terms like fat free or all natural are often slapped on a food item that may not be healthy at all. 
 Frustrated? You're not alone. Nearly 59 percent of consumers have a hard time understanding nutrition labels, according to a Nielsen survey.

Here's our list of the 16 most common - and most misleading phrases - manufacturers use on food, with advice on how to look past the hype to make smarter supermarket choices.

All natural

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Don't be fooled, "all natural" doesn't mean all that much. The Food and Drug Administration doesn't define it, although food makers won't get in trouble as long as so-labeled food doesn't contain added colors, artificial flavors, or "synthetic substances." 
 That means there's room for interpretation.

So a food labeled natural may contain preservatives or be injected with sodium, in the case of raw chicken. "Some natural products will have high fructose corn syrup and companies will argue that since it comes from corn, it's healthy," says Stephan Gardner, director of litigation at the Center of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). "Well, that isn't true."


Turkey Sandwich with Mushroom Soup (Credit: iStockphoto)
When shopping for healthy bread and crackers, look for the words "whole grain" or "100 percent whole wheat." It's not enough if it says multigrain or "made with whole grain." 
 Whole grains, (which include popcorn, brown rice, and oatmeal), have more fiber and other nutrients than those that have been refined, a process that strips away the healthiest portions of the grain.

And don't go by color alone: Some darker breads or crackers have caramel coloring and are no healthier than highly refined white breads. For a list of ingredient to keep on your radar, check out The Whole Grain Council's helpful chart.

No sugar added

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If you're concerned about calories and carbs (maybe because you have
diabetes or are trying to prevent it), you may toss "no sugar added" products in your grocery cart
 But foods, including fruit, milk, cereals, and vegetables naturally contain sugar. So although these products may not have added sugar they still may contain natural sugars. And "no sugar added" products still may contain added ingredients like maltodextrin, a carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates - which can be simple sugars or more complex starches - raise blood sugar, and "no sugar added" doesn't mean a product is calorie- or carbohydrate-free.

Sugar free

cupcake, woman, healthy eating, istockphoto, 4x3 (Credit: istockphoto)
Sugar free doesn't mean a product has fewer calories than the regular version; it may have more. (Although food makers are supposed to tell you if a product isn't low-cal). Sugar-free products have less than 0.5 grams of sugars per serving, but they still contain calories and carbohydrates from other sources. 
 These products often contain sugar alcohols, which are lower in calories (roughly 2 calories per gram, compared to 4 per gram for sugar), but compare labels to see if the sugar-free version is any better than the regular version. (Common sugar alcohols are mannitol, xylitol, or sorbitol).

Caution: Sugar alcohols can cause diarrhea so don't consume a lot in one sitting.

Zero trans fat

Basket of crispy fried chicken with fries out of focus on a blue background.
Trans fat is bad for your heart, and the ideal intake is zero. But products that say "no trans fat" can actually contain less than 0.5 grams per serving. "If a product says 0 trans fat on it, it isn't actually at zero," says Gardner. "If the consumer were to have two servings, then you would get a good amount added to your diet."

Check for words on the ingredient list such as hydrogenated oils and shortening, which mean trans fat is still present. There are some products that are more likely to contain trans fat than others.

Free range

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Although a food label may say "free range chicken," don't assume your bird was scampering around outside Farmer Brown's barn. 
 Although the US Department of Agriculture does define the words "free range," there are no requirements for the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access.

"What it's supposed to mean is that they are out running in a field," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, nutrition expert and author of "Read It, Before You Eat It." "But what it really means is they just have exposure to the outdoors."

Fat free

fat, obesity, waist, measure, istockphoto, 4x3 (Credit: istockphoto)
This is a notoriously misleading label. When the dangers of saturated and trans fat became clear, the market was flooded with products that touted their fat-free status. The problem? They sometimes contained nearly as many calories as full-fat versions. 
 "Just because it says it's fat-free, doesn't mean you get a free ride," says Taub-Dix. "Packages could say it's fat free, but be loaded with sugar, and sugar-free products could be loaded with fat."

Check the label for calorie content, and compare it to the full-fat version.


yogurt, eat, woman, istockphoto, 4x3 (Credit: istockphoto)
A food label may say a product, such as olive oil, is light, but manufacturers have been known to use the term to refer to the flavor rather than the ingredients. 
 "The flavor might be lighter, but you aren't saving one calorie," says Taub-Dix. "The wording on light products can be confusing for consumers, but it is important to read the nutritional facts."

To be considered a light product, the fat content has to be 50% less than the amount found in comparable products.

Gluten free

Gluten Free Diets Are Here to Stay (Credit: AP)
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat or rye and it can wreak havoc on the health of those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. 

Gluten-free products are becoming easier to find, which is great for those with gluten intolerance. For everyone else though, there's no advantage to buying them. In fact, gluten-free whole grains may have less fiber than the regular version.

"Unless you have metabolic problems, gluten-free products don't help you lose weight and are not necessarily good for you," says Taub-Dix. "But because it's a buzz word, it's put on packages."

Made with real fruit

Assorted fruit smoothies (Credit: iStockphoto)
Products that claim to be made with real fruit may not contain very much at all, or none of the type pictured on the box. 

While companies must list the amount of nutrients they contain, such as fat and cholesterol, they do not have to disclose the percentage of ingredients, such as fruits and whole grain, according to CSPI.

In 2012, a California woman filed a class-action lawsuit over Fruit Roll-Ups, which contain "pears from concentrate" and no strawberries (in the case of the strawberry flavor).

Lightly sweetened

sugar generic (Credit: iStockphoto)
Although the FDA has definitions for terms like "reduced sugar," "no added sugar," and "sugar free," companies sometimes come up with marketing lingo that is, well, just made up. 
 One of those terms is lightly sweetened, which isn't defined by the FDA.
"Whether Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size is "lightly sweetened" should be determined by federal rules, not the marketing executives of a manufacturer," according to a CSPI report from 2010.

Cholesterol free

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Cholesterol free doesn't mean, literally, no cholesterol. Cholesterol-free products must contain less than 2 mg per serving while low-cholesterol products contain 20 mg or less per serving. Foods that say "reduced" or "less cholesterol" need to have at least 25 percent less than comparable products.
 Cholesterol is made by the liver, so only animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, and butter can contain it. If a plant-based product (such as corn oil) touts its cholesterol-free status, there's no benefit compared to other vegetable oils, which also don't contain it.

(The American Heart Association recommends people consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol daily.)


(Credit: istockphoto)
While "organic" was once a bit like the term all natural - open to interpretation - that's no longer true. If a product has a USDA label that says organic, 95 percent or more of the ingredients must have been grown or processed without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides (among other standards). 
 A label that says "made with organic ingredients" must have a minimum of 70% all ingredients that meet the standard.

Keep in mid that organic is not synonymous with healthy. In fact, it may be anything but. Organic food can still be packed in fat, calories, and sugar.

"Companies like to add magnetic words on products to make you think it's healthy," says Taub-Dix.

Two percent milk

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Two percent milk sounds great - it's such a low number! What most people don't realize is that whole milk contains only 3.25 percent fat. 

So 2 percent milk contain less fat than regular milk, but not that much. It isn't technically considered low fat; only 1 percent milk and fat free (also called skim milk, which has less than 0.5 percent fat) meet that standard.

Two percent milk may say reduced fat however, because it has at least 25 percent less fat than regular milk. But the American Heart Association and other health experts recommend that adults choose 1 percent or fat free over other types of milk.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Seared salmon steak with a fresh salad.
Seared salmon steak with a fresh salad.
(Credit: iStockphoto)
Omega-3 fatty acids come in three main types: Eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA) and a type called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which doesn't have the proven benefit for the heart as EPA and DHA. 

Some foods are higher in ALA, such as flax seeds, than EPA and DHA. Eggs may contain omega-3 if chickens are fed flax seed or fish oil, but are not considered to have a heart health benefit because of their cholesterol and saturated fat content.

"If you are looking for a good helping of omega-3, stick to fish and seaweed products," says Gardner. "Products will sprinkle flax on their food just to slap the omega-3 label on the front."

Serving size

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Food manufacturers can be tricky with serving sizes. To make a product look low in fat or calories, they may list information based on a tiny, unrealistic serving size. 
 And FDA recommendations on serving size, the Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) index, tend to be outdated, based on eating habits of decades past. For example, the RACC for ice cream is a half-cup, or one scoop - a lot less than what most people now eat in one sitting. For example, a pint of ice cream would be considered to have four half-cup servings, a buzz kill for those of us who could eat the whole thing in one sitting.

If you are a two-or-more scoop kind of person, double, triple, or quadruple the label's calorie and fat information as needed.


Organic Food Labels Misleading Consumers to Make Unhealthy Choices

April 29, 2011 4:34 PM EDT  Source: Business & Health

The LA Times recently reported a dangerous food myth that has been circulating throughout the health-conscious community as of late: cookies and chips are tastier, have fewer calories, less fat and more fiber when they are organic.

Organic food labeling has been a hot button issue lately as the nutritional and medical communities often find themselves at odds with food manufacturers that market foods in such a way that consumers perceive organic products as healthier choices.

"There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there when it comes to food marketing," said Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, of Halevy Life. "For example, Twizzlers are labeled as 'low-fat' but they have the same amount of carbohydrates as the average loaf of bread. And that is just one example of how [consumers] are being misled by labeling."

According to Dr. Kent Sasse, MD, of Sasse Guide, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. In order to legally be considered organic, products must be at least 95 percent organic. To be labeled as 100 percent organic, items must be made entirely with organic ingredients.

Despite these regulations, there are many mixed messages out there when it comes to the nutritional content of organic food.

"Nutritionally speaking, organic packaged foods [such as cookies and crackers] are no healthier than the conventional versions," said Moskovitz. 

"When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the primary difference is that no chemicals or pesticides have been used in the growing (vegetables), raising (animals) or processing of a food item."

In addition to being free of pesticides and chemicals, organic foods tend to be more expensive than conventional. If you're looking to cut down your grocery budget, Moskovitz suggests choosing conventional fruits and vegetables and taking the extra care to wash them well before eating or preparing them.

"With organic produce, you don't have to wash it as well because it's already pretty clean," Moskovitz said. "With conventional produce, wash it well and pat it dry to get rid of any remaining chemicals."

When purchasing meat and poultry, Moskovitz said it isn't as important to look for organic options as it is to look for products labeled 'grass-fed.'

"Grass-fed animal products are higher in monounsatured fats and lower in saturated fats. They're not organic, but typically have more health benefits."
While organic food remains in the category of common food myths and misconceptions, experts point out that studies to-date are lacking in proving the nutritional superiority of organic foods.

"As a registered dietitian, my main concern at the end of the day is that my clients are eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and getting the nutrients they need," said Moskovitz. "Eating conventional produce is not harmful if you wash it properly. What is harmful is not eating them at all."

Reproduced from Dietsinreview


What caused the obesity crisis in the West?

13 June 2012 Last updated at 07:25 ET  Source: BBC News Health 

Jacques Peretti
British people are on average nearly three stone (19kg) heavier than 50 years ago, but who or what is to blame? Jacques Peretti (pictured above) investigates. (Photo Source: BBC News)
Contrary to popular belief, we as a race have not become greedier or less active in recent years. But one thing that has changed is the food we eat, and, more specifically, the sheer amount of sugar we ingest.

"Genetically, human beings haven't changed, but our environment, our access to cheap food has," says Professor Jimmy Bell, obesity specialist at Imperial College, London.

"We're being bombarded every day by the food industry to consume more and more food.

"It's a war between our bodies and the demands our body makes, and the accessibility that modern society gives us with food. And as a scientist I feel really depressed, because we are losing the war against obesity."

One of the biggest changes in our modern diet stems back to the 1970s when US agriculture embarked on the mass-production of corn and of high-fructose corn syrup, commonly used as a sweetener in processed foods.

This led to a massive surge in the quantities of cheaper food being supplied to American supermarkets, everything from cheap cereal to cheap biscuits. As a result, burgers got bigger and fries (fried in corn oil) got fattier.

According to nutritionist Marion Nestle, this paved the way for obesity.

“Start Quote

Obesity is caused when people consume too many calories without the exercise to balance it out”
End Quote Susan Neely American Beverage Association
"The number of calories produced in America, and available to American consumers, went from 3,200 in the 1970s and early 80s to 3,900 per person, almost twice as much as anybody needed. And that enormous increase, I think it's the cause of a great deal of difficulty," she says. 

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), a highly sweet by-product of waste corn, was also incredibly cheap. It began being used in every conceivable food - pizzas, coleslaw, meat. It provided a "just baked" sheen on bread and cakes.

By the mid 1980s, corn syrup had replaced sugar in fizzy soft drinks. The move made financial sense from the soft drink companies' point of view, as corn syrup was a third cheaper than sugar.

But it was also sweeter and, argue some scientists, more addictive. In the next two decades, the average American's consumption of fizzy drinks almost doubled - from 350 cans a year to 600.

But Susan Neely from the American Beverage Association says the increased consumption of fizzy drinks is not to blame for increased obesity in the West.
"The evidence says that obesity is caused when people consume too many calories without the exercise to balance it out," she says. 

"Certainly our regular soft drinks are a source of calories, so if you're consuming too many calories and watching too much television or not getting enough exercise, you're going to have a problem."

Weight gain
Dr Jean-Marc Schwarz from San Francisco General Hospital says it's the sheer amount of fructose being consumed that makes it dangerous.

Sugars: What's the difference?

  • Sucrose is the sugar we know as basic table sugar. It contains both glucose and fructose.
  • Glucose is found in fruits in small amounts. Glucose syrup is made from corn starch.
  • Fructose is the main sugar occurring naturally in all fruits. It also occurs in high-fructose corn syrup.
"It doesn't have a toxic effect like lead. It's not comparable to lead or mercury, but it's the quantity that just makes it toxic," he says.

Fructose is easily converted to fat in the body, and scientists have found that it also suppresses the action of a vital hormone called leptin.

"Leptin goes from your fat cells to your brain and tells your brain you've had enough, you don't need to eat that second piece of cheesecake," says Dr Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist.

He says when the liver is overloaded with sugars, leptin simply stops working, and as a result the body doesn't know when it's full.

"It makes your brain think you're starving and now what you have is a vicious cycle of consumption, disease and addiction. Which explains what has happened the world over," he says.

Heart disease
In the mid-1970s, a fierce debate raged behind the closed doors of academia over heart disease. It boiled down to one simple question: what causes it - sugar or fat?

The view that fat was to blame prevailed, and in doing so it created an entirely new genre of food - "low-fat" products.

The creation of "low fat" promised an immense business opportunity forged from the potential disaster of heart disease.

“Start Quote

When you're eating food that is highly hedonic, it sort of takes over your brain”
End Quote David Kessler Former head, US Food and Drug Administration
Overnight, low-fat products arrived on the shelves. Low-fat yoghurts, spreads, desserts and biscuits. All with the fat taken out, and largely replaced with sugar.

The public embraced the new products, believing them to be healthier. But the more sugar we ate, the more we wanted. 

By the time anyone began to ask if it was a good thing to replace fat with sugar, it was too late - but it was a decision with huge implications for the obesity crisis. 

"If fat's the cause, that's a good thing to do," says Dr Lustig. "If sugar's the cause, that's a disastrous thing to do… and I think over the last 30 years we've answered that question."

David Kessler, the ex-head of the US government's most powerful food agency, the Food and Drug Administration, believes sugar - together with fat and salt - appeals to our brains in the same way as addictive substances.

"It gives you this momentary bliss," Mr Kessler says. "So when you're eating food that is highly hedonic, it sort of takes over your brain."

Terry Jones, from the UK's Food and Drink Federation, says: "All the time the science is changing, the thinking around how to tackle the problem is changing.

Obesity and lifestyle

  • What is obesity? It is normally defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30
  • Use the BMI calculator to check your BMI, from your weight in kilograms divided by your height in metres squared
  • According to figures from 2009, almost a quarter of UK adults are obese (22% of men and 24% of women)
  • Find out more about healthy living or explore a Diet and Fitness plan to suit you
"This is an industry which takes its responsibilities very seriously. It has already done an awful lot and will continue to do so, and we know that there's a real commitment behind us playing our full part in public health." 

The US Sugar Association are keen to point out that that sugar intake alone "is not linked to any lifestyle disease", but scientists are now beginning to think there is something specific about fructose which accelerates obesity.

If a link with obesity is established beyond doubt, we could see the food industry creating a whole new market for low-sugar products, according to former Coca-Cola executive Hank Cardello, who is campaigning to get corporations to tackle obesity.

"The silver lining in the challenge of obesity is that even though it's a problem, it creates a galvanising effect.

"Companies need to make money, and consumers need to eat food that is convenient and tastes good, and from the public health perspective we need products that are healthier. And all those need to come together."



zain said...

its such good products for health because without healthy and smart look not comfortable and agree with you while daily i am going to walk for maintain my health and Generic Levitra

Catherine said...

That's what they said about high fructose corn syrup. They said it's healthy because it is made from corns but what they didn't said to us is, it is made from GMO corns.

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