The Truth Behind 5 Misleading Food Labels

Source: .

Source: Tyson Foods .

No problem -- the food industry is great with wordplay. Tyson Foods was caught in a labeling lawsuit in 2007 when its two largest competitors, Perdue Farms and Sanderson Farms , alleged false advertising against its "Raised Without Antibiotics" marketing campaigns. The two competitors rightfully acknowledged that Tyson Foods feeds its chickens ionophore antibiotics, demanded $14 million in losses from unfair competition, and successfully made the food giant stop its advertising campaign and pay $5 million.

What consumers may not know is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in the process of implementing a voluntary plan with the food industry to phase out the use of certain antibiotics from cattle, hog, and poultry production. The goal is to reduce the impacts of antibiotic resistance for human health-care products, not to make labels more accurate, but consumers will welcome the benefits of both.

5.No added hormones

What the USDA says : "A similar claim includes 'Raised without Hormones.' Federal regulations have never permitted hormones or steroids in poultry, pork, or goat."

I'll bet that's news to most consumers -- and it's exactly why Horizon organic dairy milk from WhiteWave Foods lists an asterisk next to its claims, followed by a statement that reads, "No significant difference has been shown between milk from [growth hormone-treated] and non-[growth hormone-treated] cows." From a biochemistry standpoint, bovine growth hormone has no effect on humans. So why make such claims or labels in the first place?

Educate yourself

You are free to eat whatever you want, but don't get caught up in the misinformation of food labels. The best way to remove yourself from the herd is to understand food labels -- and their actual legal meanings -- before purchasing a product. You can even browse through the nutritional content of over 8,000 food products as determined by the USDA . Make it a habit to remind yourself before each grocery trip.

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Maxx Chatsko has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check out hispersonal portfolio,CAPS page, orprevious writing for The Motley Fool, or his work forSynBioBeta, to keep up with developments in the synthetic biology industry. The Motley Fool recommends PepsiCo and WhiteWave Foods and owns shares of PepsiCo, Sanderson Farms, and WhiteWave Foods. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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