In what I see as a positive for consumers, this is still a small fish, big pond kind of scenario. We talk a lot about product labelling and how confusing and misleading it can be for consumers. You look at a product and it says ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘no artificial colours’ etc and you think the product is safe to buy. But then…
There is so much to take in when it comes to reading food labels (so much so that we wrote a book on it to make it easier to understand!) so when manufacturers put misleading claims on their packaging, it makes it that much harder to know what’s the truth and what isn’t!
It is actually illegal to make false and misleading claims on packaging and recently a supermarket chain and a juice company have been fined for misleading labelling, including on juice that was advertised as made from Australian apples but was actually produced using Chinese concentrate. You can read the whole article here.
There must be a grey area to distinguish what a ‘misleading’ claim actually is because products that claim things like ‘contains no artificial colours’ might not contain artificial colours but MAY contain harmful preservatives and flavours and may also contain harmful natural colours. In this instance, in my eyes, even though what the packaging says is true, it is misleading because consumers think that there is nothing harmful or artificial in the product at all. A prime example of this is below:
As you can see, it says ‘no artificial colours or flavours’. This is true. What is does contain are colours caramel and annatto. Caramel (or 150) has been linked to gastro intestinal problems and hypersensitivity and annatto (or 160b) is linked to skin irritations, gastrointestinal, airways and central nervous system reactions, linked to behaviour and learning problems as well as head banging in young children, irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in children and adults.
Is this misleading to you?
So while this appears to be a fairly healthy and ‘safe’ product, you can see why you really need to read the ingredient list and not rely on what’s on the front! Manufacturers rely on the fact that consumers lead busy lives and don’t have the time to stop and take their time reading labels. And when they do read the labels there are so many confusing ingredients and numbers listed that we don’t know what’s what.
We often get asked about label reading and what to look out for which is why we decided to put together an easy to read understand guide to label reading. Visit our store to get your copy today.