Consumer Reports: food label "puffery" - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Consumer Reports: food label "puffery"

(WMC-TV) - You may be tempted to toss certain things into your shopping cart, like a butter blend that "helps block cholesterol," candy and soda touting "antioxidants" or foods whose labels say they're "natural."

Consumer Reports' ShopSmart says not so fast.

Natural may sound good, but when it comes to snacks and cereal, ShopSmart's experts said there's no standard definition. A box of Kix cereal reads "all natural corn," but the company admitted to ShopSmart it may contain genetically modified corn and sugar.

General Mills, which makes Kix, told Consumer Reports if consumers want to avoid genetically modified food, they should look for their products labeled "certified organic."

Smart Balance makes the claim its Butter Blend helps block cholesterol because it has added plant sterols. But ShopSmart's experts determined you'd have to eat a minimum of 13 tablespoons every day to potentially lower your risk of heart disease. That much Smart Balance has 1,300 calories.

Consumer Reports contacted the manufacturers of Smart Balance about their claim that added plant sterols help block cholesterol. The company did not respond to the magazine's questions. 

7UP Cherry soda and Raisinets tout "antioxidants." But those treats also serve up a hefty seven to nine teaspoons of sugar in a serving. 

One of the most misleading labels is on chicken. To earn the "free range" label, producers can give chickens access to open air for as little as five minutes a day and still meet the requirement. 

There are some labels Consumer Reports said are worth their salt. For instance, "USDA Organic" means 95 percent of the ingredients were produced without synthetic fertilizers and most industrial pesticides.

On meat and poultry, the claim "raised without antibiotics" means the animal should never have been given antibiotics.

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