Food Packaging Labels Hide Portion Sizes Even In Healthy Food Products
Posted Aug 10 2010 11:51am
You've really got to read the fine print when it comes to food packaging labels!
Food manufacturers are getting sneakier and sneakier about hiding the portion sizes to which their nutrition information applies! Even healthy food labels are not innocent.
Now I'm usually quite vigilent when it comes to reading food labels. I scan those ingredients for any trace of partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat), high fructose corn syrup, acesulfame potassium , too much saturated fat, and too little fiber and protein. But what I missed recently was what I felt was a deceptive food package label for a new Clif Bar product.
I decided to give the new Clif Crunch Granola Bar (peanut butter flavor), a try after seeing them on display at a Whole Foods Market during my visit to Chicagoland. I thought they tasted great, but the way the bar had a separation line in the middle with peanut butter in-between made it more challenging to eat. I figured, I was used to traditional Clif Bars that are soft and chewy, so I guess I just wasn't used to the hard Clif Crunch Granola Bar.
My husband had one for lunch yesterday and enjoyed it. I went into the box to get one for breakfast this morning, and noticed that it seemed strange that for a package that had 10 bars in it, how we only had 3 left in the box. But then again, I remembered that my husband had said he was going to take some in to work to keep at his desk, so I didn't really think anything of it.
Then it hit me as I looked again at the Clif Crunch box that said "10 bars", and then back at the wrapper. OMG there are 2 bars in each indvidual bar's package! When you look at the indivdiual bar package (which appears to be the size of one bar), there are actually two in there.
That's why the separation line (even though they are stuck together with peanut butter so I can't see how you would eat them any other way). When you look at the label, the serving size is two bars. Whoa! Was I eating 380 calories each time I thought I was eating 190?
The good news is that apparently Clif expects you to eat 2 Clif Crunch Granola Bars at one time, since they're 190 calories, 9 grams of fat (1.5 saturated fat), 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein for the two bars in the package.
The bad news is that you're really not getting the 10 bars you think you're paying for because you're probably going to eat these as a package of 5. So instead of paying $2.50 for a box of 10, or $.25 each, you're really paying $2.50 for a box of 5 or $.50 each. Still a pretty good deal, since slightly larger Clif Bars or comparable size Luna Bars are usually $.99 each on sale at a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods Market. But you want to really know what you're getting and not have games played.
Now Clif Bar is not the only one doing this kind of misleading labeling (IMO) by any means. I expect that kind of stuff from traditional food manufacturers. But I tend to hold healthy food companies to a higher standard.
Yes, if you look closely at the individual bar package that seems to hold just one bar, it does say there are 2 bars inside, but I think most consumers would do what my husband and I did, and assume it's a bar per package. All Clif Bar needs to do to be clear, is label them as 5 bars per package (instead of below the large "10 bars" which catches your eye, the less noticeable "5 2-bar packages"), and if someone really does figure out how to separate the two halves, and eat just one of them, kudos to them.
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Please note that I do not have an affiliation with any of the companies featured in this post--they are simply products I am personally familiar with--no samples were supplied. The views expressed are my opinion only and you should decide, along with your healthcare professionals, on the appropriateness for your personal use.