Walking through the grocery store, I notice that all the foods stocked neatly on the shelves contain the same few words that are highlighted. Words like “organic”, “all natural”, “multigrain”, and “sugar free” instantly make the foods seem more appealing as I throw them into my shopping cart. Why do these nutrition claims sway my opinion of the food? How can a simple word instantly decide whether or not I will spend more money on my grocery bill for the hope of being more healthy or sustainable?
As a society, people are always looking for quick-fixes that will improve their overall health and well-being. These “buzz words” seen frequently on products in the grocery store can often convince the consumer that the food will be a healthier option.
I, like every other person, love a quick fix to my issues. But I can assure you, eating an “all -natural” cookie will not save you.
So, here’s the issue with these health claims. Most of these claims are not supported by the FDA by any measurable requirements. This allows marketing production teams to literally take full control of what the consumer will think about the product. If the first thing you see on a box of gummy snacks is “made with real fruit”, then you may be less inclined to check the nutrition label for the shocking amount of sugar that accompanies this so called “real fruit”.
The number of these persuasive nutrition claims is expanding daily, but there are a few that are extremely common on products across the globe. These include ploys for sugar free products, organic, all natural, vegan, multigrain, free range, fat free, and light/low calorie products.
There are also several claims that are accurate and beneficial to economic and individual health such as Fair Trade in foods like coffee and chocolate. People are more inclined to buy foods with the official Fair-Trade seal because they know it will actually make a difference in global production of the ingredients.
It is important as a consumer to understand these persuasive methods used by food production companies in all parts of the world. If you can educate yourself on the truths behind these nutrition claims, you will be able to become an effective consumer and avoid spending too much money on false claims.