Although food labels are meant to accurately tell us what’s in the package we’re buying, marketers have devised a clever little system to make foods sound more healthful than they really are. More specifically, a food item can claim any number of vague health statements that may or may not be scientifically valid. There’s been a recent trend in products suggesting that they can boost immunity or defend against illness – but there’s typically little or no evidence backing up such claims. This rather large white lie is permitted because of the lack of regulation regarding labeling rules. If you claim a product “maintains” or “supports” functioning (such as cholesterol levels, immunity, or blood pressure) instead of explicitly stating that it can treat or prevent a condition, manufacturers don’t have to provide any proof. For example, a product can state it “supports a healthy heart” or “maintains cholesterol levels” without any question from the FDA, but you cannot state a product “reduces the risk of cancer” without the approval of regulators. As a result, claims that use this type of tricky language are generally ignored. Moral of the story: buyer beware of words such as maintain and support.
A few of the offenders whose claims could very well be true or untrue:
- La Yogurt’s Probiotic Blend which claims to “support immunity and digestive health.”
- Triscuit offers a Thin Crisp which “may help prevent against heart disease.”
- Green Giant offers a Digestive Blend of frozen vegetables to “maintain a healthy digestive system.”
You get the idea….