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Surprising Food Claims That Could be a Lie to Get You to Buy

Tim Boyer's picture
Food claims that may be lie

In the May 2014 issue of Experience Life magazine, public health lawyer Michele Simon, JD, MPH, warns readers that reading should not equate with believing when it comes to food claims made by both the food industry and government scientists that could be nothing more than a lie to get you to buy.

In the article, Ms. Simon offers some eye-opening truths about how that the food industry is tied closely in with both legitimate and not-so legitimate councils, organizations and institutes that unduly influence our food buying decisions in the name of good health.

In the article Ms. Simon lists several examples of studies that reveal that the scientific credentialing of the message is often a conflict of interest as the researchers, nutritionists and medical doctors are typically funded by the food manufacturer―without public disclosure. Worse yet, trusted health organizations such as the American Diabetes Association (ADA) have placed themselves on a slippery slope of truths and half-truths for “a $1 million ‘alliance’” as she points out with the artificial beverage sweetener aspartame in one example.

To help consumers make smart choices in reading between the lines of health media and food claims, Ms. Simon offers the following 7 food claims to watch for that could be a lie to get you to buy as summarized below:

Food Claim Warning #1: Never believe anything a food company says about science

According to Ms. Simon, claims made by a food manufacturer are suspect because there is an inherent conflict of interest due to the primary motivation of any company is to sell more product. Adding a patina of science to the claim only camouflages the motivation of selling.

Food Claim Warning #2: Even if a science or health organization sounds legit―look it up

Many organizations such as the website FamilyDoctor.org are actually funded by companies like Coca Cola. Case in point—the American Academy of Family Physicians received a $500,000 donation from this soda giant writes Ms. Simon.

Food Claim Warning #3: Check websites for suspicious-sounding groups

Resources such as Sourcewatch.org reveal that a group known as the Center for Consumer Freedom is actually funded by the tobacco, food and alcohol industries.

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Food Claim Warning #4: Be wary of key words in front-group names, such as “council” and “institute”

A name that includes “council” or “institute” sounds impressive and implies honesty and credibility. However, this is not always the case. Ms. Simon advises consumers to see this as a red flag and look a little deeper to see if it is funded by a company with a conflicting interest.

Food Claim Warning #5: Look up academic authors online to check for industry ties

Look in the authors’ bios to see whether they work as consultants for a food company. A bio may not always reflect this connection, but it’s a good way to begin an investigation of your own.

Food Claim Warning #6: Look for disclosures of conflicts of interest in published articles

If possible, find the original article about the study. Typically, disclosures are listed at the end of the article and are required by many journals.

Food Claim Warning #7: If a news headline or food-package claim sounds too good to be true—it probably is

According to Marion Nestle author of Food Politics, “A lot of nutrition is plain common sense,” reports Ms. Simon. Use your common sense when it comes to the credibility of reports of new and exciting discoveries that are amazingly simple e.g. “Eat this food item and instantly lower your cholesterol,” that run counter to what you’ve previously heard from multiple sources.

To learn more in detail about what Ms. Simon has to say about how consumers are deceived when shopping for food, check out the May issue of Experience Life.

For an additional article about food lies, take a look at this informative article titled, “Is Your Natural Cereal Making You Fat? Label Lies Exposed!”

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference: Experience Life May 2014 issue