A Look Into Misleading Nutrition Labels

I just heard about a brand of cookies that sounds like all the rage, but upon further investigation is a complete flop. I'll let you decide for yourself though. In the meantime, some words of wisdom...

When selecting processed, pre-packaged food, there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. The sexy health claims are located on the FRONT of the box
  2. The TRUTH about what's really in the product is located on the BACK of the box

Most food manufacturers do NOT have your health in their best interest. 

If they can make money using ingredients that are cheap, that extend the product's shelf life, and that make you crave more of it (junk food, after all, is addictive) they've hit the jackpot.

But, because they know that people are hopping on the "healthy eating" bandwagon, they rely on brilliant marketing to convince confused shoppers to buy their products. How? Adding buzz words to the front of the package to grab our attention.

The truth of the matter is that most of these words are meaningless. For instance, what's their definition of "Nutritious" or "All Natural"?

Case in Point: WhoNu Nutrition Rich Cookies

Well, the front of the box says that it's "nutrition rich" so it's gotta be good, right?

WRONG!

Let's check out the ingredients listed on the back of the box:

  • Ingredients in "Crispy" Flavor: WHEAT FLOUR, SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS [SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, DEXTROSE, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN], SOYBEAN OIL AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SUGAR, POLYDEXTROSE, CORN SYRUP, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, BAKING SODA, CALCIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM SULFATE, SALT, SUCRALOSE.
  • Ingredients in "Chocolate" flavor: SUGAR, WHEAT FLOUR, VEGETABLE OILS [CANOLA, PALM, PALM KERNEL OIL, SOYBEAN OIL AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL], COCOA, DEXTROSE, POLYDEXTROSE, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, CORN SYRUP, BAKING SODA, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, MONOGLYCERIDES, VANILLA EXTRACT.
  • Ingredients in "Vanilla" flavor: WHEAT FLOUR, SUGAR, VEGETABLE OILS [CANOLA, PALM, PALM KERNEL OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, AND COCONUT OIL], POLYDEXTROSE, DEXTROSE, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, BAKING SODA, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, MONOGLYCERIDES, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, VANILLA EXTRACT.
  • INGREDIENTS in "Soft & Chewy" flavor: WHEAT FLOUR, SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS [SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, DEXTROSE, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN], HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CANOLA AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, POLYDEXTROSE, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, DEXTROSE, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CORN STARCH, GLYCERIN, BAKING SODA, MOLASSES, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, XANTHAN AND GUAR GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, ANNATTO.

The Shocking Results of this "Nutrition Rich" Snack

  • Contains a long list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients (none of which could truly be considered food..."fake food" is more like it)
  • Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Sugar appears in the top 3 ingredients for all flavors (remember, ingredients are listed in order of quantity) and any ingredient ending is "-OSE" is also sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup. This artificial sweetener is linked to weight gain/obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a host of other health issues.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils.  Like HFCS, partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) will make you fat and sick. They're added to the product to extend its shelf life and contribute nothing positive to our health.

Their website states that they wanted "to create a delicious, nutritious treat moms and dads can give their kids, without the empty calories."

Would YOU feed your children this? I wouldn't.

These cookies claim to have the same amount of Vitamin C as a cup of blueberries (per 3 cookie serving). Wait a second...I have an idea! Instead of these cookies, why not just feed your children a cup of blueberries? Delicious, colorful, flavorful, sweet, juicy, packed full of nutrients and antioxidants! [Yes, frustration breeds sarcasm...my apologies...]

On a side note, I found it mildly entertaining that the ingredients lists were very hard to find on the website. They're located on the bottom of the FAQ page (which is found on the bottom of the homepage in a tiny font)

I can't imagine why this company wouldn't want to draw attention to the ingredients in their cookies!

If you want to give your child cookies, why not make some homemade cookies? Or if you really want your child to have a "nutrition rich" snack filled with vitamins and minerals, perhaps a better alternative would be whole fruits & veggies which I guarantee are more nutritious than any of the ingredients in a WhoNu cookie.

Main Takeaway:

Do your own research. Food manufacturers can get away with putting just about any health claim on their products. Read the ingredients and use your common sense to make your own decisions for you and your family. You can buy whatever you want, but at least be informed about what you're getting from it.