Food Label Hype

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You may be tempted to toss things in your shopping cart, like a
butter blend that "helps block cholesterol," candy and soda touting antioxidants, and plenty of foods that say they're "natural."

But Consumer Reports ShopSmart says not so fast.

Jody Rohlena with Consumer Reports says, "Natural may sound good, but when it comes to snacks and cereal, there's no standard definition.
The Kix box says it contains "all natural corn," but the company admits that it may contain genetically modified corn and sugar."

As for this butter blend, Smart Balance makes the claim it helps block cholesterol because it has added plant sterols. But how much would you need to eat to potentially lower your risk of heart disease?

Jody points out, "You'd have to eat a minimum of 13 tablespoons every day. That's practically this whole tub, and that much Smart Balance has 1,300 calories."

And what about 7UP Cherry soda and Raisinets that tout antioxidants? Well, these treats also serve up a hefty seven to nine teaspoons of sugar in a serving.

Jody warns, "One of the most misleading labels is not on processed food. It's 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. That's just sad."

There are some labels worth their salt - for instance "U-S-D-A Organic" means 95 percent of the ingredients were produced without synthetic fertilizers and most industrial pesticides.

And on meat and poultry - the claim "Raised without antibiotics" means the animal should never have been given antibiotics.

General Mills, which makes Kix, says if you want to avoid genetically modified food, look for its products that are labeled "certified organic."

Consumer Reports also contacted the manufacturers of Smart Balance about its claim that added plant sterols help block cholesterol, but the company did not offer a response.

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