Have you been fooled by these foods?

In the supermarket, every day feels like April 1st. Here’s a sampling of the latest tricks.

Yes, there’s some avocado in Hidden Valley Avocado Ranch Dressing. But the bottle basically contains a mix of water and oil. Less than 2 percent is dried avocado.

What explains the avocado-green tint? A mix of Blue 1, Yellow 6, and Yellow 5 food dyes, of course.

What else are they hiding in that valley?

“Love your juice. Love your life,” says Welch’s Super Berry Juice with Antioxidant Vitamin C 150% Daily Value.

Wow. Those super berries must have supplied loads of vitamin C!

No, silly. Read the fine print: “Flavored blend of Concord and other grape, aronia and mangosteen juices from concentrate with other natural flavors and added ingredients.”

We’re talking mostly grape juice plus who-knows-how-little aronia and mangosteen and some added vitamin C.

Gotta love Welch’s marketing department.

“Grab some goodness,” implores Del Monte Fruit & Chia Peaches in Strawberry Dragon Fruit FLAVORED Chia. See the pictures of fruit on the label? Other than the peaches, they’re just for show.

That’s what “flavored” means. You get only a flavor…and some carmine (red color from insects) to make it look like you’re getting strawberries.

Not that Del Monte is trying to fool anyone. Nah.

“Nutritious deliciousness,” says Oprah’s O That’s Good Creamy Parmesan Pasta…with a Twist of White Beans.  “We’ve replaced some of the cream with a smooth white bean puree, increasing the number of veggies while keeping all of the savory, cheesy flavor in every bite.”

Yes, a “twist” of white beans is better than none. But you’re still getting enough cream and cheese to supply a third of a day’s saturated fat and sodium in each 280-calorie (one-cup) serving. And that’s if you stop at just a third of the package.

Do the beans make it nutritious? The manufacturer—in this case, Kraft Heinz—gets to decide.

“New with probiotics,” boasts Kellogg’s Special K Nourish Berries & Peaches Real Fruit & Yogurty Pieces Cereal.

Who can resist “pieces” of hydrogenated palm kernel oil, sugar, and yogurt powder that’s been heat-treated (which kills the yogurt’s live cultures)?

And what is Nourish’s added probiotic (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019) good for, anyway? Not much. Lucky for Kellogg that “probiotics” sounds like the answer to whatever GI problem ails you. How special.

Simply Skinny Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt Mashed Potatoes may look like a potato-loving dieter’s dream.

Surprise! A half-cup serving has just 10 fewer calories than the company’s regular Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

What’s behind the “simply skinny” claim? Apparently, it’s that the potatoes have “40% less fat.” (That amounts to a trivial 2 ½ fewer grams.)

Memo to Simply: Less fat doesn’t lead to skinny. Only fewer calories do.

Find this article interesting and useful? Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you don’t already subscribe to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.

20 Replies to “Have you been fooled by these foods?”

  1. Just goes to show if it’s from a box, can, or bottle, it’s buyer beware. Going all fresh is a challenge though.

  2. Another misleading label comes from Post Cereals. Honey Bunches of Oats with almonds now promotes “25% more almonds”. However the nutrition label on the new box with all the extra almonds is the same as the older box. Confusing?

  3. This info is important! The public needs to learn as much as possible about the food we eat, and understand that false/vague labelling is “rampant” in our grocery stores.Thank-you.


    1. Solution…never buy anything at a grocery store in a can, jar, bag or box with more than 5 ingredients. Those should only be whole grains; no sugar or sugar substitutes; from an identifiable animal, if meat or fish, that is unprocessed; fresh vegetables and fruits; no juices; fresh milk and milk products; frozen vegetables and fruits; and anything else that is in as close to original condition as possible.

  4. I am not surprised that manufacturers are unmindful of our health or shortchange us in value.
    What I find appalling is that no one is outraged. People still buy these products. I make myself read the nutrition label on products. Anything I don’t recognized or any vague references to “spices” “flavours” or “soy” etc., the product stays on the shelf.

  5. I, love you. Please, please, please, please, PLEASE never change or be influenced by the money that these companies can offer. I dont mind marketing techniques and the way they can manipulate your interests, ON ANYTHING BUT FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, seriously. This is an en-, epi-, and PANdemic that is far more serious than the people in charge are taking it. Food Inc, Fed Up, and What the Health are just a few examples of how bad it is.

    Thank you so much for everything! Will continue to support whenever possible.

  6. More clarity in labelling is exposing some of these absurdities. Great, and allows us to avoid some poor choices.

    Next, for my money, should be more specifics around ingredients. I have food intolerances to some things that sometimes show up in ‘Spices’ or ‘Natural Flavorings’. I would have a lot more choices if I didn’t have to avoid products with those vague lists.

  7. I read every label on a new product because of that reason. It is made to believe that you a getting good nutrition, but you are not

  8. Just subscribed to this newsletter and is just the information I have been looking for. So hard to know what food is healthy. Looking forward to my first issue.

  9. I’m 100% on board with the message here. The industry seeks to exploit advances in nutrition science, thereby drawing us back in. Example, I have read that probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis (as splashed all over Kellogg’s Special K Nourish package) is helpful to digestion. Any of us over 50 probably would like improved digestion, but are we always guarding for the this?

  10. Using this kind of info provided by your organization I have been educating my children at the grocery store and when they watch TV. They may roll their eyes now but at least they know what “made with whole grains” and “contains real fruit juice” actually means. You are making a difference.

  11. We need to, as consumers, be careful about what we buy instead of adding to the big big profits of large corporations who are only interested in making more and more money at the expense of the nationional health and welfare of unsuspecting people. Keep up the great work and research.

  12. Over the years you’ve taught to to read labels, how to read labels and what the double speak on labels mean. You’ve made me smarter and my life healthier. In turn I taught my kids. My mom used to subscribe until Alzheimer’s overtook her. So that’s four generations you’ve educated and continue to enlighten.

  13. I love you, too as said by another contributor! Please keep up the great work that you do! I am now a consummate ‘label reader’, and what I’m reading on labels is positively scary! I’ve decided now that anything that I see advertised as being “super good for me” is probably not at all good for me and avoid it completely!

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