Food Labels That Mean Nothing

We’ve talked at length about how to interpret the facts behind the many labels we find on our food. Many labels, like certified organic, are regulated by the FDA and USDA and have standards that farmers and food manufacturers need to follow in order to use the label. Some labels, however, are not regulated at all.

Marketers can use unregulated labeling terms at their own discretion, and some will add the latest buzzwords to packaging in order to attract customers. While these labels can be helpful on some food products, there are some instances where they mean nothing at all. Here are some food labels we’ve seen that made us say, “Hmm …”

Non-GMO grapes – Although technically accurate, there is no option to choose GMO grapes. The only GMO fruits grown in the U.S. are papayas, squash and apples, so all grapes are inherently non-GMO.

Meaningless Marketing: non-GMO grapes

Gluten-free water – The gluten-free label is very important to many people who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, gluten is only found in cereal grains like wheat, barley, rye and oats so, on a food product like water, it’s not necessary.

Meaningless Marketing: gluten-free water

Hormone-free chicken – If you see chicken, turkey or pork labeled “no added hormones” or “hormone-free,” it’s simply a marketing term. Hormone use is not allowed in any poultry or pork. No need to pay extra for that label because all chicken is guaranteed to be free of added hormones.

Meaningless Marketing: hormone-free chicken

These examples serve as good reminders to look at what really matters when it comes to making decisions about food. Turn the packaging around and look at the Nutrition Facts panel to see if your food is healthy and nutritious. No matter what type of food you are looking for – GMO, non-GMO, organic, hormone-free – you can rest assured that all food in the grocery aisle is thoroughly tested and is safe.

Have you seen any labels in the grocery store that make you say, “Hmm …?” If you have questions about a label or a practice, you can always ask a farmer. Hungry for Truth is all about connecting South Dakotans to the farmers who grow their food, so leave a comment and we’ll connect you to a local farmer who can tell you all about what they do.

Read on for more about food labels:

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