RK Tip of the Week|Front of label packaging equal to Botox

Posted on March 17, 2010


No one seems to mind if, as humans trying to put our best foot forward, we fudge a bit on our “packaging,” that is, the stuff that shows off outwardly to others…hair color, make-up, even a little Botox is accepted as a small “oomph” a person can give themself to attract themselves to other humans.

But when it comes to the food you eat, would you be ok with the food making some alterations to itself to put a better foot forward? Or more realistically, the food producer is making the modification to the food & package to make it appear more appealing, more sexy, more enjoyable to the purchaser – even though it’s a total health-less joke what they market it as compared to what it really is.

A woman getting breast implants to send out a different “package look” to other humans won’t impact your health. Food that’s labeled with healthy banners on the front & is totally different from what’s inside is a totally different, and serious, matter.

I had a small contribution to a news story recently abut front-of-label-packaging on food. It was about how the FDA wants to standardize what can go on the front of a box. You can read the full story here. I said more interesting things than what they used, but hey, that’s editing for you. As we’ve talked about before gang, if a food needs to shout at you why it would be so good for you to eat it…you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

When was the last time broccoli had banner ads shouting at you from its’ spot nestled in the produce aisle? The foods shouting at you are the packaged items, the fake foods, the stuff filled with chemicals that your body is going to become severely inflamed trying to process (& remember, an inflamed body is a fat body). Read this to get a clear picture of why food marketing is harming your health if you fall prey to it.

Recently two terribly off-point marketing campaigns caught my eye…First, I was looking for nuts of some kind to have as a grab-and-go snack at work. A little tired of plain almonds, I was strolling the “nut aisle” at the store & came across a certain little monacled peanut guy’s brand of flavored skinless almonds, and I thought, now that’s interesting. They took the skins off, so what was left was a tan little nut that crunched easily as opposed to a raw nut that you chew & chew & chew. Then they added flavors to them, the one in particular that caught my eye was “Olive Oil & Salt,” as I thought, ‘now, aside from the salt, that could actually be a potentially tasty & good-for-you snack if portion controlled with a piece of fruit.’

So I did what I do every time I pick up a package I’m not familiar with – I flipped it over & read the back. The ingredients? Almonds, Canola Oil or Cottonseed Oil, Salt. Let me remind you these are “olive oil & salt” flavored nuts. That’s right, they didn’t even use heart healthy olive oil to make these olive oil flavored snacks. They used a veggie oil that will clog your arteries, lovely. *Just so you know gang, veggie oils also have gotten a great marketing campaign in the last 20 years, they are NOT as good for you as they’d like you to believe. So Nut Man can’t even make a product that uses the real healthy stuff yet knows that & knows that if you see an ingredient widely known to be healthy, like olive oil, he uses it to lure you in & make you think what you’re buying is better than it is. What a fake out.

Second recent situation bothered me because it involved food that kids would be drawn to, and we have a serious childhood obesity epidemic that foods like this are not helping. One, the kid wants the food because it looks “cool” & second, the parent is totally confused by the label if it’s actually a good-for-you food for their kid. I saw a pack of fruit snacks get handed out at an event I was at. The front of the package had an apple on it with “Made with Real Fruit Juice” on it, as well as another box that said “fat free.” Well!! Fruit juice AND fat free! This MUST be a good thing! Flip label & what do you get? In this order:

  • corn syrup – this product is mostly corn, not fruit, not juice, not anything except corn
  • sugar – lovely, just what a kid needs
  • fruit juice -#3 on the list, less of this item than corn & sugar
  • gelatin – you’d expect to see this in fruit snacks
  • sorbitol – fake sugar, they already added sugar, why do they need to add fake sugar??
  • citric acid – typical in fruit snacks
  • anticaking agent -weird
  • artificial flavors -but I thought it was made with “real” fruit juice?
  • artificial colors (titanium dioxide, FD&C, red #40, yellow #5, yellow #6, blue #1) – some of these are banned in other countries yet we are totally good with the harmful effects of them apparently

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (a food scientist make things just as complicated, and sometimes uses the same ingredients – TBHQ for example is in many foods as a preservative & is also used as rocket fuel- so that might be a more fitting comparison)…to realize that foods that have been hijacked by science are not going to sustain life for the long term. You just need to make sure you’re as educated as you can be.

  • Don’t buy it if there is more than 6-8 ingredients.
  • Don’t buy it if there’s chemicals you can’t pronounce in it.
  • Don’t fall for it if it needs to make a banner ad claim on the front just to get you to buy it.
  • Buy things that look like they came from nature.
  • Convenience food only inconveniences your health.
  • Real food doesn’t have to be fortified with vitamins, minerals, fiber, calcium or vitamin D. Buy real food.