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What Food Labels Should Really Say

The food industry utilizes a full arsenal of psychological tricks, smoke and mirrors, and out right deception to sell food. One tactic, food labels, aims to make us think unhealthy foods are healthy and make us feel better about the treatment of animals. If these labels told the truth, here is what they would say.

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Free Range

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The free range label on chicken evokes images of happy animals roaming the outdoors with fresh air and sunshine. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

As long as the door is open for five minutes a day, farms and ranches can be considered free range, regardless of the space per animal or time spent outdoors.

Made With Real Fruit

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This label makes parents and other consumers believe that these products are wholesome and made from healthy, fresh fruit. However, the reality is most often the only "fruit" comes form juice concentrate or food color dye. There is no law that requires how much real fruit has to be contained in foods with this label.

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The multi grain label implies that this product is made from healthy grains. In fact, the multi grain may simply be a mixture of equally unhealthy versions of different refined grains. Make sure to look for the term "Whole Grain" instead. And don't trust the dark color. Often, this dark color is the result of the addition of caramel coloring, not whole grains.

Cage Free

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Another animal welfare parlour trick that implies that chickens live in sunny, happy henhouses. However, most cage free operations simply pack the chickens into windowless henhouses, often without enough room for them to even spread their wings. Beyond animal welfare, there has been evidence of higher rates of Salmonella contamination in larger, tightly packed flocks.

Lightly Sweetened

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The "lightly sweetened" label means absolutely nothing. In fact, products with this label may contain any amount of sugar. But it sure sounds healthy.

Fat Free

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When a product boasts that it is fat free, it usually is (Well, almost - products with this label may only have .5 grams of fat per serving). The problem is that, fat free usually tastes terrible. More often than not, these foods are packed with other ingredients to make them more palatable - sugars, salt, flour, and other food enhancers - significantly raising the calorie count.

The Fine Print

The bottom line is you can't trust the fancy labels and packaging. Read the fine print and the the ingredients list to help you make healthier choices and avoid the deceptions.

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