Over the weekend, Fooducate posted a great recap of an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled, Response of the Food and Beverage Industry to the Obesity Threat, by Jeffrey Koplan and Kelly Brownell. (Brownell, you may recall, has been discussed here previously and I recommend his book, Food Fight.) In the JAMA article, the authors discuss five tactics that the food industry uses to downplay obesity and to disclaim any responsibility for the problem.
One of the five tactics is to put health claims or nutrition-related blurbs on virtually any product, leading the gullible consumer to think that he or she is making sound choices. That was never better illustrated than when I found myself in the Target “Dollar Spot” just an hour after reading the Fooducate post. Sure enough, even most Dollar Spot foods (which tend not to be of the healthy, whole food variety) had some kind of health or nutrition blurb on their packaging.
As but one example, the Fluffy Stuff cotton candy I photographed below — a product that literally contains nothing but sugar, artificial flavor and artificial color — can truthfully tout that it’s “fat free,” which might lead some consumers to think that it’s somehow an OK choice.
I used to be an advertising and regulatory lawyer for a huge consumer products and food conglomerate, and much of my day was spent evaluating and crafting such claims for my companies’ products. Even though those companies were acting well within the law, something seems wrong with the whole regulatory system when you see a photo like that.
As Fooducate put it so pithily:
If all 50,000 products in a supermarket are so healthy, why are two thirds of us so fat and sick?
Be sure to check out the post to read about all five tactics food companies use.