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The Package Claims It's "Healthy," But Is It? New England Grocery Chain Unmasks Food Labels For Processed Foods and Mo

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:12pm

Read this fascinating New York Times story from reporter Andrew Martin about how the New England chain of Hannaford Brothers rated the nutritional value of nearly all the foods and drinks at its stores using its new "Guiding Stars" system.

Surprise, surprise: Of the 27,000 foods reviewed, a whopping 77 percent received no stars, meaning these foods aren't healthy --- despite claims on the package indicating otherwsie.

Not surprisingly, this "0" ranking goes to many, if not most, of the processed foods that bill themselves as good for you.

As Times reporter Martin observes, the "0" ranking includes:

  • V8 vegetable juice (too much sodium)
  • Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato soup (ditto)
  • Most Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners (ditto)
  • Nearly all yogurt with fruit (too much sugar).
  • Whole milk? Too much fat — no stars.

Fruits and veggies get the thumbs up with three stars, as did salmon and Post Grape-Nuts cereal. (Don't quite agree with the latter ranking, though.)

Hurrah for this grocery store chain for instituting such a program. Wouldn't it be nice if this caught on all around the nation?

Poor unsuspecting consumers definitely need help to make sense of those food labels, because many nutrition claims are basically full of bunk.

Indeed, as The Times points out, it's tough for unsophisticated shoppers to figure out if a product is superior or inferior, especially when a package trumpets certain virtues of a product (example, high fiber) but then ignores the negatives (high sugar or high sodium).

Incidentally, my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK! includes a chapter that "outs" some common label misconceptions relating to sugars.

Clearly, I'm big on educating people to discern the truth when it comes to nutrition claims on food labels.

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