Mislabeling on Food Products


Nealy 59% of consumers are mislead by food product labeling. Here, I will talk about the most common labels that are slapped on food products that are not necessarily truthful.

  1. All Natural: All natural labeling is not closely monitered by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, this “all natural” food can contain preservatives or be injected with sodium, high fructose corn syrup. So “all natural” foods are not always that natural.
  2. Multigrain: Bread that is labeled with “multigrain” or “made with whole grain”, is not a 100% whole grain product. Whole grain products contain more fiber and nutrients than those that have been processed, which takes away the healthiest components of the grain.
  3. No Sugar Added: Foods such as fruit, milk, cereals and vegetables naturally contain sugar. So although these products might say no sugar added, they do still contain sugars. Additionally, some “no sugar added” products contain ingredients like maltodextrin which is a carbohydrate.
  4. Zero Trans Fat: Trans fat is bad for your heart and humans should ideally intake no trans fat. Although labels may say “zero trans fat”, products are legally allowed to contain less than .5 grams per serving.
  5. Free Range: Free range animals are allowed to be called “free range” as long as some of the animals have some access to the outdoors. This could be a a tiny dirt patch that a few chickens or cows roam around in for a short duration of time each day.
  6. Fat Free: Although companies began using alternatives to saturated and trans fat. However, these alternatives often contain nearly as many calories as full-fat versions. It is often smart to check the label for calorie content and compare it to the full-fat version.
  7. Organic: If a product has the USDA organic label, it often means that 95% or more of its ingredients were grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. However, a label that says “made with organic ingredients”, must have a minimum of 70% of all ingredients that meet the standard.


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7 responses to “Mislabeling on Food Products

  1. katieorlady

    I thought this was super interesting to get more insight into what these labeling terms actual mean. Why do you think there is not more regulation on the food labeling industry? Do you think that a federal government standard for each label meaning could help end consumer confusion?


    • I believe the number one cause for not having stricter labeling laws is because of how much money the food industry brings in. The government does not want everyone to stop purchasing meat or else our economy will crash. Better labeling would definitely help consumer confusion, however this would cause many people to discover the negative side of the food industry and to stop purchasing many farm raised meats and so on…


  2. Emilie Adamovic

    I have always heard of food labels being mostly untruthful, but didn’t know to what extent. Are there any labels that you think can be trusted? I think generally that consumers should know what to look for when they look at nutrition labels. Do you think more people need to learn how to read nutrition labels rather than looking at quick colorful blurbs on the front of a can?


    • Yes there are definitely ways to learn what you can trust. Trustworthy internet sights are places you could find answers to what labels really mean. Many labels are misleading.


  3. amyquandt

    Interesting list! It seems like there has been an increase in this type of labeling for consumers who want ‘healthier’ products. Did you find any cases of a produce that was previously not labeled with any of these becoming labeled, while the product did not change?


    • One label that is showing up more and more is organic labeling which doesn’t necessarily mean that no pesticides are used. It does mean however, that less pesticides and more organic pesticides are used. This is very attractive for a number of customers because they don’t feel as harmed by harsh pesticides.


  4. Peter Newton

    Thanks – this is a really interesting set of insights! But I got to the end of your blog and wanted to know: So… what are the implications? What should we think, say, or do differently as a consequence of understanding that labels don’t all mean what we think they do? Should we demand policy changes? Stop paying attention to food labels completely? This blog post would have felt more complete with some of your interpretation and conclusions – perhaps you can provide those here instead!


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