Beware deceptive food labels

Love your morning cheerios? It's hard to miss the giant banner stretched across the middle of the cereal box that reads: "Lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks." Turns out there's some fine print behind that health promise. When combined with a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, one may reap those cholesterol lowering benefits, but not by consuming Cheerios alone. A new special report from the editors of Consumer Reports Health looks at several grocery-aisle gotchas, cautioning that one can't make assumptions about food based on its packaging. The report recommends that consumers think twice when they see marketing terms that sounds like health claims. Some of those terms include "Organic," "Natural," "Whole Grains," and "Cage Free." Here are a few "gotchas" from the report: •The "All Natural" claim confuses the vast majority of consumers, according to a 2007 poll by Consumer Reports. Case in point: Snapple Tea carries the label "All Natural," when in fact the bottled tea contains high-fructose corn syrup, a highly processed form of sugar. Part of the confusion results from the fact that the Food and Drug Administration does not officially define the term "natural." There are three tiers of "organic" labeling - "100% organic," "organic," and "made with organic ingredients" - and they all mean different things. A chicken that gets as little as 5 minutes of open-air access daily qualifies as "free range." To read the full report on food labeling, go to www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org********** Published: March 27, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 49