Learn the Label Lingo
Claims, labels and terms to master before navigating the aisle
In a world filled with choice, a food label can be like a beacon of fluorescent light in the middle of a grocery aisle. Nutritional content, ingredients – this is information that helps. But then there are labels that mislead or confuse rather than clarify, hindering your ability to pick out healthy, nutritious food for you and your family – no matter the claim.
We want to help you wade through the words. So when labels lie, you know the facts behind how your food is grown and raised.
"As a registered dietitian and mom, I’d like to help..."
Jodie Shield, RDN
"Antibiotic free, organic, natural... What do these claims really mean?"
"It's up to us to read labels, pay attention and..."
LABELS DON'T HAVE TO MISLEAD
With all of the conflicting headlines, eating healthy has become so confusing and quite frankly, downright scary. As a registered dietitian and mom who shares your concerns, I’d like to help you become more than a headline reader in the grocery store.
I think one misconception regards anything that’s labeled organic. Moms want to know if, for health reasons, they should really buy organic products. I tell them there is no research saying organic is more nutritious or better. It is a lifestyle preference.
I’m not concerned about GMOs in my food, either. I’m OK with it, but I do respect the fact that people want to know more about it. Learn the facts
about GMOs – both pros and cons – from reliable sources like National Academy Report,
GMO Answers and the FDA. Get the full story and make the right call for feeding your family.
Bottom line: The commitment to cook a meal for your family is the healthiest thing you can do. When it comes to feeding your family healthy foods, you’re in charge, so I encourage you to be prepared and informed when it comes to reading food labels.
WHAT DO FOOD LABEL CLAIMS REALLY MEAN?
I was thinking last night about marketing and farming. Marketing is such a powerful vehicle because in the end it influences what I think to be truth and
how I spend my money. Antibiotic free, hormone free, organic, natural… What do these claims really mean, though?
SO, WHAT DOES "ANTIBIOTIC FREE" MEAN?
All farmers are required to follow strict withdrawal periods for animals given antibiotics, so what does this really mean? The milk and meat that you are
consuming is antibiotic free regardless of what it says on the label.
SO, WHAT DOES "HORMONE FREE" MEAN?
SO, WHAT DOES "ORGANIC" MEAN?
SO, WHAT DOES "NATURAL" MEAN?
Then why does my package of split chicken breasts say "natural"? Why does my carton of soy milk say "natural"? Aren't they by nature, natural?
THE ORGANIC HEALTH HALO: IT’S REAL, PEOPLE.
Cornell researchers find that consumers believe organic food has fewer calories and are willing to pay nearly 25% more for it. Lesson: read the label.
a group of researchers from Cornell's Food and Brand Lab wanted to know if the "health halo" effect of organic food could lead to real bias. They offered
up a pair of cookies, yogurt and potato chips to shoppers. All of the product pairs were produced organically, but they labeled one of each as "organic"
and "regular." Then they offered them up to consumers to taste and rate.
If you read a label - and know what organic means - then you have a much better chance of avoiding the health halo. You can be an informed consumer. You
can know that organic doesn't really mean more nutritious; you can make the decision to either buy organic or conventional food because you know the organic label is simply a description of how the food was raised, not the nutritional content.