I have taken a small break from blogging due to some unforeseen events that I had to take care of first. Now I am back and decided to write about a subject that I’ve been thinking about for what seems to be the longest time. Food labels.
It appears that food manufacturers tend to make food labels claims that need to be taken with a grain of salt. In other words, plain misleading. I will go over a few of these.
1. ‘Healthy’ Food.
What exactly is ‘healthy’? Raise your hands if you know the answer. Food and Drug Administration is baffled about this and is looking for the public input.
Most of the claims about general categories of foods, such as fruit and vegetables to maintain good health are actually dietary guidance rather than health claims, hence not subject to authorization by FDA. Therefore, food manufacturers can state whatever they please in order to promote their products and this is largely unregulated.
Sounds confusing? You are not alone.
FDA is currently in the process of redefining nutritional claims on food labeling, and is working on an updated definition of ‘healthy’.
I’ve always been big on checking Nutrition Facts Panels when buying just about anything. The first thing I’m looking for is carbs. The next is fat content, and after that, an expiration date. Haven’t noticed too many folks do the same, though. Most of them just grab a gallon of milk and out on their merry way. I on the other hand, want to make sure that the milk won’t go bad on me in a few days. It may be just me.
By the way, fat content in milk is to be discussed later.
In fact, you can’t rely on what some if not all food labels claim. Statements such as ‘healthy’, ‘low fat’ or ‘good source’ of this substance or the other can turn out to be a sales gimmick that is intended to nothing more than to sell a product. I’ve always had a nagging feeling that all that the food labels are trying to accomplish is to sell me something. Such as for example, ‘vitamin water’ sounds like a pure sales pitch. Or ‘smart chicken’ as was recently advertised in a local grocery store flyer, priced at mere $5 for a pound and two ounces. Or ‘premium’ anything.
Of course, all of these have a price tag attached accordingly.
Does celery ever come in a variety that is not crisp? Farmer’s Market — come on now, it’s just a name of a company. Seedless cucumbers — what is the point? I understand seedless watermelon but cukes, of all things? Give me a break.
Dietitian Pick — now this is creative. A real dietitian came along and picked this head of iceberg lettuce. I know that is right.
2. All Natural.
I don’t know who coined this term but FDA doesn’t define it. This means that food makers can do as they please and won’t get in trouble. It leaves lots of room for interpretation every which way. For example, if a food is labeled natural, it can still contain high fructose syrup — high carbs — while the food makers claim that since it comes from corn, it’s ‘healthy’.
Natural chicken can be actually injected with sodium or saltwater in a process called plumping. This is done in order to enhance flavor and, you guessed it, to increase weight of the meat before it’s sold. If this is done, the label will state “flavored with up to 10% of a solution” or “up to 15% chicken broth.”
In fact, it is very rare that a package of meat or chicken comes with a Nutrition Label printed on it; most of the time there’s none. I checked a package of chicken thighs that I had bought earlier today; it does have a Nutrition Label on the bottom but you need to flip it over in order to see it. Once the label is not in the plain view, I take it most folks won’t bother to look for it. Mine happened to have it and it doesn’t state anything about added solution or broth. Now that I know, I can’t help but wonder about meat purchased at the deli counter — it doesn’t even come with a nutrition label. This is something that had never occurred to me up until now.
Consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and other problems, especially for those who were told to cut down on salt intake. Buy plumped chicken and you’d be looking for trouble, albeit inadvertently.
How I wish that I had my own chicken farm.
More is coming. Stay tuned.