Watch out for misleading food packaging claims

Food package claims like “a good source of fiber,” “low-sodium,” or “no high-fructose corn syrup” don’t necessarily mean that the food inside the package is healthy, according to nutrition expert Walter Willett.

That’s because such claims are often carefully chosen to emphasize healthy sounding information about a food—while leaving out information about a food’s unhealthy qualities, said Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a September 27, 2017 article in Consumer Reports.

For example, a cookie package might claim the cookies are a “good source of calcium,” but fail to mention that the cookies are loaded with sugar. A box of macaroni and cheese might proclaim that it contains “no artificial flavors, preservatives or dyes,” but omit the fact that it has a high amount of sodium.

“Food manufacturers use every possible word they can to magnify the desirability of a product,” Willett said. He advises shoppers to “turn the package around and read the ingredients and the nutrition facts label, paying attention to crucial things like sodium, sugar, whole grains, type of fat, and calories.”

Read the Consumer Reports article: How Food Packaging Claims Can Fool You