Five Tricky Food Marketing Terms

Often, I got a variety of great questions about reading nutrition labels. How do we know what is true and what is a bunch of bologna? Companies use specific language to encourage consumers to buying their product. Here is a quick list of a few sneaky food marketing terms to get you thinking about what our food packages are really telling us.

1. All Natural means it does not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are minimally processed. The catch here is that they can still contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and other unwanted chemicals.

2. Cage Free/Free Range can mean that the chickens or birds are not living in a tight cage but still does not indicate that they are free outdoors.

3. Local means that the product was grown within 100 miles of the point of purchase or consumption. Companies tend to stretch this term a little farther than 100 miles, or the ingredients are not local at all and the product was baked or processed in a local facility.

4. Grass Fed means that the cattle or other animal was on a grass diet rather than a grain diet. Nutrition fun fact for you: grass fed diets are naturally higher in omega 3’s than grain fed diets, so that if that beef lived the happy grass fed life then you too are gaining some extra omega 3’s.

5. Organic means that the produce or animal was grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.


Made with Whole Grains means that there are some whole grains in there, but it is possible other grains are in that product too.

Hormone Free/Antibiotic Free means there were no hormones or antibiotics given to the animal.

Healthy means nothing. Any company is allowed to write healthy on their product. Nutella just got in trouble for this, but there is no regulation saying that they can’t. Is Nutella actually healthy? No. Are the strawberries we dip in it healthy? Yes.

Gluten Free means that the product is made without gluten, which is the protein in grains like wheat and barley. This is helpful to know for anyone living with Celiac disease. Often times you will read gluten-free on the front package but listed in the ingredients are other ingredients to replace the gluten containing grains. Not always healthy ingredients.

Naturally Sweetened/No Sugar Added/Reduced Sugar means read very carefully what the ingredients are in this product. Very carefully. Naturally sweetened could mean there is added apple juice to your dried fruit to make it sweeter. No sugar or reduced sugar could mean that there is no added sugar, but there could be artificial sugars and other ingredients to sweeten the product. Aspartame, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, sucralose and neotame are just some of the artificial sweeteners that can be found in sugar free or no sugar added

Can you think of any other marketing terms that are misleading?

#Marketing #GroceryShopping #FoodLabels

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