4 Ways Manufacturers Trick Consumers

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Contains whole wheat! 

All-natural ingredients!

Low in sugar!

When you see these words on a label do you assume they must be healthy? 

If not, good for you. But if so, you are certainly not alone!

Many manufacturers commonly use these phrases and a number of other deceitful tactics in an attempt to trick customers into buying their “healthy” products. Sadly, these companies are often successful because the typical consumer isn’t aware of these dishonest practices.

Read on to discover four tactics that companies often use to trick consumers and learn how to avoid falling into their trap!

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LABEL PADDING

Companies will often engage in a tactic known as “label padding.” Simply put, label padding is when a company adds tiny amounts of desirable ingredients to a product for the sole reason of being able to add that ingredient to the label. 

On an ingredients list, the ingredients are listed by how much of each ingredient is in the product. For example, whatever ingredient is present in the largest quantities will be listed first. If there is only a tiny bit of an ingredient, it would be near the end of the list.

Many of the popular fruit and vegetable pouches for babies and toddlers are a great example of label padding.

You will often see things like “Apples and Kale” on the front of a pouch and an unknowing consumer would think, “Oh good! Fruit and veggies for my baby!” However, if they look at the ingredients list there is a good chance the first ingredient will be apples followed by other things like preservatives… and finally, kale at the bottom of the list, which means it most likely contains very little. 

Unfortunately, there is no regulation that stipulates how much of an ingredient must be in a product for a company to market it as a “main” ingredient. 

While there are some pouches that contain a decent amount or even a full serving of vegetables (we love these!) the majority of these pouches are almost completely comprised of fruit. 

“ALL-NATURAL” PRODUCTS

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a certified organic product and one that is labeled “all-natural?” There are so many labels being used nowadays that it can get seriously confusing for the average consumer.

Organic companies are held to strict standards. Their products cannot be treated with any pesticides or other dangerous contaminants and these items cannot contain any genetically modified ingredients. In the U.S. these companies must adhere to regular inspections and meet certain requirements to be granted use of the USDA certified organic label.

But one of the most confusing labels is “all-natural.” A lot of customers assume that this label basically means organic. They assume that all-natural means there are no questionable ingredients, no pesticides, and no contaminants.

By regulation, in order to label a product as all-natural it should not contain any artificial ingredients and should be minimally processed. However, “all-natural” foods aren’t held to the same strict standards that organic foods are. There is no formal inspection process to ensure that companies are following these protocols.

Products with “all-natural” labels may also contain antibiotics, hormones, GMO’s, pesticides, and other contaminants.

When purchasing “natural” products it is extremely important to research a companies practices and not just assume that they take their “all-natural” label seriously.

“WHOLE WHEAT”

“Whole wheat” is used extensively by manufacturers to market products as “healthy.” However, unless that product is 100% whole wheat, it’s likely not much better than processed white bread.

Even if there is only a small amount of wheat in a product, a company can market it as “whole wheat.”

Not only that, but it also may be enriched wheat flour which means that it has basically been stripped of all the nutrients that would normally be present in 100% whole wheat.

To ensure you’re getting a nutritious product, always make sure it says 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain.

MANIPULATING SERVING SIZES

Manufacturers will frequently manipulate the serving sizes of their products in an attempt to leave dangerous ingredients off the label.

For example, if a food item contains less than half a gram of trans fats per serving, the company can actually label its product as having zero trans fats. So a company will simply make the serving size so small that it can meet this requirement and claim the item is free of trans fats.

Or if a manufacturer wants to market their new package of “healthy” cookies as being low in sugar they may simply manipulate the serving size on the product (eg: one cookie instead of two) to make it appear like the item has less sugar, even though most people would certainly eat more than one cookie.

It’s truly scary and honestly infuriating what greedy manufacturers can get away with at the expense of our health. 

As consumers we need to educate ourselves to avoid these deceptive practices. 

We’ve now discussed four of the most common ways manufacturers try to trick health conscious consumers into purchasing their products. There’s a good chance that at least a few of the “healthy” products you have been purchasing actually aren’t that healthy after all. 

Try using the suggestions above to scope out some of these misleading products on your next shopping trip. You now have the knowledge you need to avoid falling into their trap!