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Viewpoint: Here’s how to separate science from marketing hype on food labels

| | July 26, 2018
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

If your head starts spinning when trying to make healthy and budget-friendly food choices, you’re not alone. Take a look around your local grocery store and you’ll find a slew of confusing terms. Organic. Non-G.M.O. Low-sugar. Superfood.

What does it all mean, and how can a normal human shopper possibly make sense of any of it?

Liz Vaknin of the food marketing company Our Name Is Farm said the way food is labeled — you guessed it — aims to get it off the shelf and into our shopping carts.

“The more value you ascribe to a term, the more you identify with it, the more you’re willing to pay for it,” she explained. “Some are useful, some are misleading, and a lot of them are not regulated enough to mean anything.” Take “natural,” for example, she said. The term has been thrown around so much, it barely means anything at all.

Related article:  'Ultra-processed' food may boost weight gain, first randomized controlled trial shows

“Superfood,” according to Andy Bellatti, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Dietitians for Professional Integrity, is almost equally meaningless. “As I like to say, all plant-based foods are ‘superfoods’ in the sense that they offer fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients,” he said.

“The most important thing is to buy what you and your family [are] realistically going to eat,”[said Alina Zolotareva, a registered dietitian and marketing manager of AeroFarms.]

Read full, original article: The Terms on a Food Label to Ignore, and the Ones to Watch For

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