Their packaging promises major health benefits — high in fiber, protein, real fruit and more — but CBC the shop An investigation reveals what’s actually inside five popular foods whose labels may make them seem healthier than they are.
“Healthy aura is basically the perception that food is better than what it says it is, with very little evidence to support that,” said Toronto-based registered dietitian Stefania Palmieri.
“When I see products like this, it’s frustrating as a dietitian because I can see how consumers fall prey to it.”
While most labels meet government label requirements, Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric obesity expert and Palmeri obesity expert, agree that the following products don’t deliver on packaging promises. They question whether Canadian labeling rules are doing enough to protect consumers from potentially misleading labels.
Annoyed by Vector
Most misleading, nutrition experts say, is the bold “high-protein” claim on the front of Kellogg’s Vector meal replacement—found in the grain aisle.
In bold, the box claims “high protein” with “13g protein.” But a closer look at the nutritional information on the side panel shows that the product contains less than half that – 5.7 grams per serving.
Consumers only get the complete protein claimed on the package if they add 200ml of skim milk – which means the majority of the protein doesn’t come from Vector itself.
Palmeri calls this “marketing manipulation.”
“Describing cereals as high in protein but only when served with milk is absurd,” Palmieri said. “Almost like advertising bread as high in protein but only if it’s combined with peanut butter.”
Vector has a small disclaimer saying that skim milk needs to be added to fulfill its protein claim.
Since they call themselves a meal replacement, not a pill, Health Canada’s labeling rules allow it.
Product marketing is often aimed at active people who want to increase their protein intake, such as Canadian swimmer Kate Holford, who eats Vector as a snack without milk because she is lactose intolerant.
She was surprised when the shop She revealed that she didn’t get the full 13 grams of protein per serving advertised on the front of the box.
“It’s misleading,” Holford said. the shop. “Especially if you’re focusing on athletes who want to get high in protein.”
in the current situationKellogg stated that the Vector poster is “realistic and transparent.” The company went on to say that it exceeded Canadian food label requirements by adding protein content information with and without the milk on the side of the box.
“Vegetables are mostly in name only.”
“The combination of garden-grown potatoes, ripe vegetables, and no artificial flavors provides a better snack for you,” says Sensible Portions’ Garden Veggie Straws website. But don’t let this fool you into thinking this is a healthy option, say nutritionists.
The product is “mostly vegetables in name only,” said Shannon Crocker, a registered dietitian in Hamilton. The product is mainly composed of potato starch, potato flour, corn starch, tomato paste, spinach powder and cane sugar.
“When I talk to people about snack foods, they often mistake them as a healthy salty snack compared to potato chips,” she said, “but they are more processed and also poorer in nutrients.”
Hains Celestial, owner of Sensible Portions, declined to comment.
The doctor says, “Nothing but candy.”
Welch’s Mixed Fruit Snacks feature pictures of fruit on the box, and bold lettering announcing “Fruit is our #1 ingredient” and “Made with real fruit.”
But experts point to the listed ingredients that show the product is mostly fruit puree, a method of processing the fruit that can eliminate much of what makes it healthy.
“This is nothing but candy, and it should be advertised as such,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist and emeritus professor of pediatrics at UCLA, noting that there are 10 grams of sugar per serving.
It is written in small print on the side of the box: “It is not intended to replace fresh fruit in the diet.”
“When you eat fruits and vegetables, you expect more fiber, you expect more vitamin C, and more potassium,” Palmieri said. Instead, according to the Nutrition Facts, Welch snacks “are not a significant source of…fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C.”
The company wrote the shop They stand by their brand and “all brand communication”, and their customers “understand” that the snack is not intended to replace fresh fruit in the diet.
The Bolthouse Blue Goodness drink package has plenty of antioxidant-rich blueberries and blackberries on the front of the bottle, but nutritionists say don’t be fooled.
The two most important ingredients are apple juice from the center and banana purée, then down the list, and raspberries, black currants, and blackberry juice from the center.
The bottle says that 250 milliliters contains “21% of the daily value fiber,” but experts say a lot of the fiber doesn’t come from the berries on the package, but from a dandelion root fiber supplement called inulin.
“I think some people might realize that all that fiber comes from the pretty berries on the label, and in that sense it’s misleading,” Toronto-based registered dietitian, Leslie Beck, said.
“It’s a bit of a trick to make people think that by adding inulin to raise the fiber content of fruit juice, it makes that juice as nutritious as whole fruit,” Beck added, noting that Health Canada now wants Canadians to limit fruit juices. in their diet.
As of 2019, the Canada Food Guide considered juice a “a sugary drink” It recommends that Canadians replace sugary drinks with water. The evidence says that consumption of sugary drinks is associated with an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.
Lustig Bolthouse describes Blue Goodness as a “sugar bomb,” with 27 grams of sugar — roughly seven teaspoons per cup.
Plus, the product claims to have “7 servings of fruit” per bottle, but the shop Health Canada found it no longer allows this type of claim. The Canadian Food Guide no longer classifies juice as a “portion of fruit”.
after, after the shop Bolthouse asked about this, The company said The designation will change next year.
As for the added inulin, the company writes that it’s meant for the benefits of fiber, and that the juice from the concentrate keeps the product cost-effective.
Fiber muffins “too good to believe?” Ask a dietitian
the shop I also looked at Fiber 1 Chocolatey Fudge Brownies, where the package says they provide five grams, or 20 percent of your daily fiber.
according to Health CanadaWomen need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day.
Denny Ogonrindi suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), a condition that can cause frequent abdominal pain, constipation, or both, so she watches everything she eats.
When her doctors said she needed more fiber, the Toronto woman tried different products, including some 1 fiber foods. She said she had had such severe abdominal pain that she now completely avoids any products containing insulin.
“This is a type of fiber that will not only help me, but will make my symptoms worse,” Ogonrind said.
General Mills, which owns Fiber 1, did not directly respond to Ogunrinde’s response to inulin. The company wrote It follows Health Canada Food and Drug regulations for all label and fiber claims, and explained that some of the added fiber comes from sugarcane, as well as inulin.
Calls for clearer labels
Dr. believes. Lustig says it will take a “cry from the public” before Health Canada, the agency responsible for developing food labels, changes the rules.
Both Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) declined to interview or comment because “the questions focus on product compliance.”
CFIA, the agency responsible for enforcing food label regulations, has written that consumers who believe a food product is incompatible or believe the food label is misleading can use the following link Make a complaint.
CFIA says it will review reports of non-compliance and take appropriate action when necessary.
Palmeri offered this advice to consumers:
Know that the front of the package is marketing designed to get consumers to buy.
Read the Nutrition Facts panel for key ingredients. They are listed according to the amount in the product – from most to least.
Look for any additives or supplements that may cause digestion problems.
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