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Food labeling hall of shame

I’ve noticed a lot of food marketers label snacks as if they are health foods. Here are some of the most egregious examples I’ve seen recently. 

Cherry 7up Antioxidant
7-Up with antioxidants

Hershey's Syrup + Calcium
Hershey’s Syrup with calcium

Chocolate Chex Mix
Chocolate Turtle Chex Mix, with “50% less fat than regular potato chips.”

Cracker Barrel Low Carb Offerings Menu
The Cracker Barrel menu—which suggests customers who are “watching what they eat” order items like a half-pound bacon cheeseburger or a 10-ounce steak.

Keebler Fudge-Dipped Pretzels and Mini Brownies 100 Calorie Packs
Keebler Fudge Shoppe snacks: “Made with 100% Real Cocoa. 0g Trans Fat.”

Nabisco 100 Calorie Mister Salty Chocolate Pretzels
Nabisco Mister Salty Chocolate Pretzels: “No High Fructose Corn Syrup.”

* * * *

Exaggerated health claims are a problem as old as advertising. And it’s fine to enjoy snacks in moderation and with exercise. But packages like these look increasingly stupid as more Americans struggle with health problems related to obesity. A soft drink with vitamins is still a soft drink, and cookies in a small pouch are still cookies. Marketers shouldn’t suggest candy-coated pretzels are ever a healthy choice. Food companies should refresh these packages portray these foods as treats, not items you should eat every day.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Marketing


  1. Julia says:

    I think the food industry (including copywriters) is definitely to be held responsible. However, people should start making smarter choices as well and realize that soda is not healthy, no matter how many vitamins or antioxidants it contains. I would also add General Mills to above list with their sugary cereal commercials for Lucky Charms etc. They are trying to convince parents to buy it because of the “whole grains” in it. Nobody mentions the 14 g of Sugar per serving size.

  2. Melanie says:

    None of these appear to be flat out false advertising. Copywriters aren’t evil. Their job is to sell stuff, not help make healthy choices for you. Folks need to learn how to read the nutrition labels when they buy stuff!

  3. Anna says:

    Check out Barilla ricotta and spinach tortelloni. The front of the package says “Dinner for 2 in ten minutes”. The left side of the package says, “Serves 2”. But the nutrition side of the package says, “Servings per package about 4”. Of course, they then understate the calories, fat etc. by 50%.

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