Food SCAMS is a continuing article series in which Dr. Chauncey Crandall warns consumers and health advocates alike about the many and varied food scams that threaten a healthy life style.
To stay healthy, you need to shop healthy. This means watching out for food scams, because, if you fall for them, all your careful shopping can be undone. And one of the trickiest scams centers on food labeling, warns renowned heart physician and cardiologist Dr. Chauncey Crandall.
“Food manufacturers can be very tricky. They know that people will flock to buy foods that are supposed to be good for them, and they expect to pay more for them as well. So they’ve come up with clever scams to make foods seem more wholesome than they are, or to hide unhealthy ingredients” Dr. Crandall says.
Such scams abound particularly in the area of food labeling, he notes. Here are three main ones to watch out for:
Multigrain vs. Whole Wheat Scam
“With the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and government health experts urging people to eat whole grains, not refined, it’s obvious to fall for a label that say “multigrain,” so this is a particularly sneaky scam,” says Dr. Crandall. But these products are likely to contain “enriched wheat flour and –guess what –that means refined. Instead, Dr. Crandall says, make sure that the products you buy, including those that contain a variety of grains, specify that they are whole grains, like whole wheat, whole or rolled oats, or brown rice. Don’t fall for the multigrain scam!
Baked or Popped “Chips” Scam
We know to stay away from fried foods, but don’t those “baked” chips, crackers or other products seem more healthful? They may seem that way, but they can also be a scam, warns Dr. Crandall. Watch out for products made from ingredients like potato flakes, starch, oil, and other ingredients. “Be cautious also when buying chips made from pita or bagels as well, because these are most likely made from refined flour, which is the type you should stay away from,” he says. This also goes for products like “popped chips,” as well, because they are made from processed potato flour and starch as well.
“Natural” vs. Organic Foods Scam
“If you are confronted with two identical items, and one is labeled ‘natural,’ you’ll probably choose it and never even realize you’re falling for a scam, but most likely you are,” says Dr. Crandall. The problem is that food labeled as ‘natural’ do not need to meet any specific labeling requirements, but foods that are certified as organic do. So buy whole food, preferably those certified as “organic,” and forget about looking for that ‘natural’ label.
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