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Food label lies: how to sort truth from hype

By Lisa Gosselin, October 1, 2010 - 12:20pm

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Lisa asks: What misleading claims have you seen on food labels?


Apparently some winery in Vermont is going around with displays and marketing their wine as "Vermont Wines".
When you read the fine print, it turns out that the grapes are from California!
is this legal?
Or more importantly, if it is legal, do you and your readers think it should be?

Leslie Dyer
Orleans, Vermont


12/10/2010 - 8:39am

Lisa, I am a scientist working in support of both conventional and organic apple, pear, and cherry producers in Washington State and I'm sorry to say that you're incorrect about the term "organic." As any forthright organic farmer will tell you, most UDSA certified organic operations use pesticides and/or herbicides - their choice in those chemicals is restricted to ingredients that are generally found in nature. There are exceptions to that rule - some synthetic chemicals are approved for organic use and some natural products are not.

Here is a link to the website which details the official legal definition of "organic" and other related terms:


10/08/2010 - 1:26pm

Anything labeled ORGANIC is misleading for the average consumer as well as yourself, needless to say
this article is also misleading

You state "... To be “certified organic” a farm must have been pesticide- and herbicide-free for at least three years..." that is NOT TRUE, search the internet for organic pesticides and you will find items such as BTs ..."A bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis produces a toxic crystal that has been identified as a killer of garden pests since at least 1911...." At least its an ORGANIC TOXIN. The list of organically approved chemicals is large and ever growing.

Organic Certification is neither time consuming or expensive for anything beyond a backyard garden

Organic Certification has nothing to do with sustainability for produce

Ask a Food Safety Expert about their view on Organic produce such as:

Richard H. Dougherty, Ph.D.
Food Processing Specialist
Washington State University


10/08/2010 - 1:15pm

This is not about labels. I just wanted to tell you how much I love your website. I subscribe to lots of Health and Food magazines and yours is definitely my favorite. BABA


10/07/2010 - 5:35pm

I recently bought a bag of organic candy with a very misleading label. I am in Canada, and foods imported from the US are often re-labeled to comply with language guidelines (ie. must have French translations) as well as any differences in RDA values, etc. in the nutritional information.

The original label listed the ingredients as: Organic tapioca syrup, organic sugar, gelatin, freeze-dried blueberry powder, citric acid, lactic acid, natural flavors, freeze-dried acai powder, purple berry concentrate, fractionated coconut oil, beeswax.

With the possible exception of the vague "purple berry concentrate", it all sounds pretty natural.

The Canadian label listed the ingredients (in blurry and tiny print) as: Organic corn syrup, organic sugar.... the rest was the same, except the fractionated coconut oil was referred to as "modified coconut oil", but is presumably the same thing. Not quite as different as tapioca syrup and corn syrup.

I bought this candy because I am allergic to corn. I was so excited to be able to eat some gummy bears again! Then I got home and deciphered the Canadian label and was so disappointed. But what if I had bought these in the States? This goes beyond misleading and is a downright lie.


10/07/2010 - 2:17pm

The labels that state No Sugar Added, which contain asperatame, sorbitol, xylitol, etc. Especially with fruit products - these should have their own sweetness. It should read sweetened with.....


10/03/2010 - 8:17am

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