You want to know that when you select a food product labeled as having certain virtues that the company will stand behind what's promised.
But while some food labels are federally monitored and clearly defined (organic, for example), others aren't so strictly regulated. Consumer Reports' Greener Choices website decodes commonly used food labels at its eco-labels center.
Here are 3 potentially misleading food labels:
All Natural LabelNatural or All Natural: People often assume this label means organic or healthy. But no standard definition for natural exists. Consumer Reports says the term only has meaning when it's applied to meat and poultry products and means that the items contain no artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients. But the producer or manufacturer decides whether or not to use it, without having the claims verified.
No Additives: Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher or Consumer Reports, says that a no additives label is often used to imply that a product has not been enhanced with the addition of natural or artificial ingredients. But there is no official definition for the term and it isn't verified when used.
Raised Without Antibiotics: Consumers Union says this term implies that no antibiotics were used in the production of a food product. The USDA has defined it to mean that meat and poultry products came from animals who were raised without the use of low-level or therapeutic doses of antibiotics. But a recent case of this label being used inaccurately by a major poultry producer illustrates some of the problems: there is no formal definition and while the USDA can hold a manufacturer accountable for the claim, no other organization is behind or verifies the claim.
Can you trust "free range", "no animal byproducts" or "100% vegan"? Find out here.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.