Decoding food labels

Selling food is a big business which is why food packaging is designed to stand out and entice us. Food and beverage marketers commonly use words like natural, lite, superfood or gluten-free to convince us that what we are buying is a food that is more wholesome and healthy. Unfortunately, sometimes this just comes down to marketing and sales tactics.

Healthier Workplace WA have put together some some simple tips for decoding and dodging the guff in the shopping aisle.

What’s Natural?

There’s no rules about when a food company can use this in their brand or product name. Putting pictures of fresh fruit and veg or farm scenes on packaging makes us think foods are healthy and
wholesome. But for the freshest and healthiest foods, choose foods with no packets at all (hint: it’s fresh fruit and veg).

Light or Lite?

Lite can mean lighter in colour or flavour, or lower in fat or calories. Make sure you know what you’re putting in the shopping trolley.

Superfoods with super powers?

“Superfoods” are fun to try, but don’t necessarily have health advantages over regular foods, and can be more costly. It’s really a buzzword getting a lot of press.

Going Gluten-free?

People with an allergy to gluten should avoid it. For everyone else, it’s more marketing hype. Gluten free doesn’t mean healthier! Gluten free versions of products are often higher in sugar and fat and lower in fibre, so it pays to read the labels. And just because a cake or dessert is gluten free, doesn’t make it a healthy choice.

Visit Healthier Workplace WA to download a copy of Decoding Food Labels, complete with a delicious recipe for Chargrilled Beef with Avocado & Corn Salsa!