Nothing could be more manipulative than the way in which Big Food uses deceptive marketing to get us to buy products while increasing its profit margin. Having been deceived, you could become seriously ill through frequent and long-term consumption of certain food products you believe to be “healthy” through deceptive marketing. The corporations will take no responsibility nor be held accountable for this.

Even the savvy – those more cognizant than most on food and health matters – have from time to time been bamboozled into buying through deceptive marketing, having unknowingly bought products containing GMO pesticides, high sodium content and dubious preservatives, etc. In order to not end up an unhealthy victim here’s an overview on what you can do.

Read the labels!

Corporations are required by regulatory bodies such as the FDA to produce certain information on the packaged food they’re marketing. Besides the front, carefully read the back of these labels, as the information given will allow you to find out whether or not the food is healthy.

Raise your label awareness

Through regulation the language on food labels is controlled. However, in spite of this, corporations use loopholes, allowing their food to be marketed using misleading terms to manipulate shoppers into buying.

Identify those misleading terms

Corporations out to manipulate try to be one step ahead using the ever-changing language of labelling. As mentioned earlier, even shoppers with trained eyes can sometimes be fooled. However, by raising your label awareness, paying special attention particularly to the ingredients weighing the most, as these may be the most likely to affect you, there are certain recurring misleading terms that can be identified. Here are some:

1. No added sugars

Quite a deceptive term, especially if you’re diabetic having to watch your high blood sugar levels: The FDA accepts the term “no added sugars” providing that there is no extra sugar added during the manufacturing process.

How does this translate when reading the labels? It means that products such as tomato ketchup or vanilla ice cream…already laden with unhealthy refined sugar must not have even more sugar added during processing. So those trying to cut back on sugar, beware!

2. Gluten-free

Those considered to be gluten sensitives may be seeking this labelling advice, but does this sensitivity actually exist?  Having said that, deceptive marketing comes in when food products are advertised as “gluten-free” that never have gluten.

Thus, the “gluten free” label creates the illusion that the paying customer has made a healthy choice. Perceived as “speciality products” it also allows the supplying corporations to get away with charging a higher price.

3. Natural

Not so long ago, a survey found that half of its participants deliberately looked for foods marketed as natural or foods having natural ingredients.  Knowing about this favouritism, food corporations have used deceptive marking to manipulate and exploit customers by labelling just about any product they can as “natural.”

Taking a bag of potato chips as an example: Sure, it’s made from natural potatoes, but it belies the fact that potato chips contain unhealthy salt and high fat content… Further, the manufacturing process devastates the potato’s nutrition value.

The survey also revealed that participants thought that the term natural implied organic, free from GMOs, additives and preservatives.

4. Organic

In recent years, as part of our ongoing awakening, the number of customers choosing organic food has risen dramatically. However, it has also given Big Food the opportunity to once again exploit and manipulate customers. For instance, an organic candy bar might sound healthy to some, but it belies the fact that this product is sugar laden.

5. Low-fat or fat-free

Fat (particularly saturated fat) has been falsely demonized. Much of this stems from the misinformation given by mid-twentieth century doctors and researchers such as Ancel Keys who have now been proven wrong.  Foods containing fat can in fact be added to healthy diets. Learn to discern junk from quality fats and the quantities used in the food. Remember, fat is an essential part of your diet, as any school biology textbook will tell you.

However, the food industry still touts low-fat or fat-free foods, much to the detriment of the consumer. If a food is low-fat or fat-free check the label to see what has been added to make up for the absence of fat.  For example, take the case of peanut butter described as low-fat or fat-free. Even though it may taste nice, this product could be packed with a load of sugary carbohydrates and stabilizers…check the label.

6. Multigrain

Multigrain has become increasingly popular with consumers and food corporations know this. They know for example that multigrain bread may be considered by consumers to be the healthier option over other breads. In spite of the health benefits, the multigrain nutrition value will be next-to-nothing if the bread has been manufactured using the flour refining process. Check to see if the bread contains refined flour.

7. Probiotics

In recent times, probiotics and the consumption of has been quite a growing trend for gut health.  Be aware that some probiotics like Activia contain high sugar cane content and use thickeners to up the viscosity while maintaining its creamy texture and low-fat status.

Not all probiotics are equal. Some are quite worthless and could in fact make you unhealthy. You can find out about 7 things you should know before buying by going here.

Finally – Other things you can do

In light of the deceptive marketing, more truth and transparency from the food corporations in conjunction with the governmental regulatory bodies is needed and should be demanded: the abject failure of peer review extends to both food and medicine.

On the subject, Big Food, particularly the processed food giants are currently experiencing a widening rift within the industry. In cahoots with the biotech industry the GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) are holding back your basic right to be able to choose healthy organic foods. The following video explains what you must know and how to get involved in boycotting the GMA and their associated companies…