Monthly Archives: February 2016

Labels are Misleading

We have all been there, we walk down the isle of the grocery store and see signs that read “organic” and “free range” and “all natural” and we feel good about purchasing these products thinking that we are making healthy, conscious choices about what we are putting into our bodies and we even pay more for these labels in order to do so. Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes market their products to be all of these labels that are better than your average grocery store goods. While we feel like we are making better choices by purchasing products with these labels, what we do not know is what these promising labels actually mean and how we are being mislead. Misleading Labels
The label “natural” is one of the most common labels we see on our products in the grocery store and we feel good about purchasing an “all natural” product thinking it is more untouched than the product that flaunts no label. The truth behind the “natural” label is disappointing to say the least. The only products that the USDA require a criterion in order to be considered “natural” are meat and poultry. For any other food the FDA’s unregulated definition of natural means that there are no artificial or synthetic additives. This being said, there are not regulations or oversight to monitor food producers to ensure that these guidelines are being followed. All natural products can be grown with pesticides and meat can be raised on synthetic animal feed and given antibiotics.
Another common label for animal products is “cage-free.” This label gives people the false idea that animals that are raised “cage-free” are living a better life than animals who are raised in cages and the notion behind the label is that animals are living on farms with access to the outdoors because they are not in cages. This is not the reality unfortunately, as “cage-free” animals are most commonly raised in cramped barns and coops without access to outdoors or light, meaning they might as well have been raised in a cage. “Cage-Free”
Like “natural” and “cage-free” the label “pesticide free” is over used and has little substance to the claim that the product was made without pesticides. There is no legal requirement for the label “pesticide free” so food manufacturers can label just about anything they wish as “pesticide free.” chickens
These are just some examples of the weak regulations the USDA and FDA on food labels and how consumers in the United States are being mislead. This is a concern and civic issue because people who are attempting to make healthy, environmentally conscious food decisions are unable to do so because labels are not reflecting the reality of the industry. We cannot make conscious decision when information is withheld from us. In addition, there is a clear argument on the part of the USDA and the FDA because they are clearly not regulating food manufacturing companies or holding them to high standards to ensure that we are getting quality food products. We should expect and demand more from our food regulation systems.