Is my food choice healthy?  Is added sugar lurking within? Is it organic? GMO? Fair trade?

We all strain our eyes to decipher food labels — although we know we can’t necessarily trust them.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely regulates direct health and medical claims, but there are many creative ways to skirt this.

“Good For You” ?

For instance, a manufacturer can’t claim a product will “boost” the immune system, but.......

it can say it will “support” it — a subtle distinction when you’re ill and looking for quick relief.

The FDA requires “sugar-free” products to contain less than 0.5 grams of sugars per serving, but they may still contain carbohydrates from other sources.

"Sugar-Free” ?

A “reduced sodium” product must have at least 25 percent less sodium than its regular version — but that doesn’t guarantee it’s not still packed with salt.

“Low Sodium” ?

And beware: Foods labeled “salt free,” “no sodium,” or “sodium free” can still include 5 mg of sodium.

And beware: Foods labeled “salt free,” “no sodium,” or “sodium free” can still include 5 mg of sodium.

A“fat-free”  designation doesn’t mean that a product actually has zero fat, just that it has a smaller amount:  500 mg per serving.

“Fat-Free” ?

“Low fat” means a product has no more than 3 grams per serving.

“reduced fat” means a food has at least 25 percent less fat than its regular counterpart.

Just because a product doesn’t contain gluten doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

“Gluten-Free” ?

“Gluten-free” food can also be loaded with sugar, salt, or fat to make up for its lack of flavor or texture.

The FDA does not regulate the designation.

“Superfood” ?

In 2007 the European Union banned making such claims unless there’s credible scientific proof — and so far, most “superfoods” aren’t passing the test.

For more information about labels including what “Farm-Raised” and “Free-Range” means, click below.

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