Food Claims and What they *Really* Mean


I come from an industry where it’s not what you say.. but how you say it.

  • Guaranteed to give you 2x Shinier Hair
  • 100% Frizz protection
  • Lasts up to 24 Shampoos
  • Protects color by 50%

Though most of these claims are based on hard facts and rigorous salon and lab testing. Sometimes, the product claims you see, are actually tiny stretches of the truth or re-wordings that marketers use to get you to pick up what they’re putting on the shelf. For example:

Have you ever seen a body lotion claim it is over 90% Natural? – Well yes, of course it is, the majority of the products you use are mostly made up of water – dare I even say – 90% water with another 10% of other ingredients. And isn’t water a natural substance? – BOOM. Claim.

How about a hair color containing nourishing avocado oil? – Sure, avocado oil is probably nourishing to your hair – but at levels closer to about 5+% and I highly doubt whatever company has put 5% avocado oil in your hair color. (Due to the fact they probably can’t afford it nor would it make a difference in a product with chemicals and dyes that color hair.) I would actually dare to put money on the fact that the “nourishing” conditioning feeling you get from your hair color is coming mainly from some sort of silicone. And that avocado oil is probably in there at around 0.001%-0.01% – basically just so you see it on the ingredient listing, because it tells a good story. – BOOM. Claim.

So what about the claims we see when it comes to our food? What sort of claims can we believe? And what claims are more of a sprinkling of fairy dust?


Let’s take a look:

  1. Made with Real Fruit: Often when a food is said to be made with “Real Fruit” it means it is made with fruit puree or sweetened with fruit juices. And while, yes, that does literally mean it has been made with real fruit in some sort of form, what it doesn’t mean, is that you’re getting the benefits (such as vitamins and fiber) of eating an actual fruit by eating this item.
  2. “Multigrain”: Literally means there were multiple or different types of grains that went in to making this product. Not whether or not those grains are actually “whole” grains (are still in tact) or if they have been processed to the ends of the earth and no longer contain any benefit to you if you eat them. (Which leads me to my next claim…)
  3. Made with Whole Grains: Again, how much? 1%? 20%? 80%? 0.001%? This kind of goes back to that avocado oil claim I mentioned earlier. As long as it’s in the product they can claim it whether it be at actual beneficial levels or not.
  4. Made with Sea Salt: Who the hell ever said sea salt is healthier for you than average ‘ol table salt? After all, both varieties contain about the same amount of sodium. Plus, table salt is iodized, which means it can supply the body with iodine, a nutrient that’s necessary for thyroid health.
  5. “Cholesterol-Free”: New dietary guidelines state that cholesterol is “no longer a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” Why? Because about 80% of the cholesterol in your bloodstream is actually made by your own liver, whereas that left over 20% comes from what you eat. So when it comes to foods that are cholesterol-free – Don’t even worry about it!
  6. “Gluten-Free” on products that would never contain Gluten anyway, like products made from corn, or fruit, of anything else other than wheat and some grains for that matter.


And finally, there are actually a whole slew of food claims that mean absolutely nothing and aren’t regulated by anyone, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Artisanal
  • Hand-Crafted
  • Wholesome
  • Superfood/Superfruit
  • Doctor Recommended (What doctors?)
  • Kid Approved (Who’s kid? My kid? Your kid? Do they all have the same tastes??)
  • Farm Raised (Aren’t all animals raised on some sort of farm??”
  • Natural (Literally is completely meaningless – Only thing it has to mean is that it does not contain any added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances – doesn’t mean it’s healthier for you)


So, again, just your friendly neighborhood chemist stopping in to remind you to be more mindful of the foods that you eat! Just because it’s labelled in a way that looks healthier for you doesn’t necessarily mean that it is! :o)


3 thoughts

    1. I mean.. it’s probably always best to eat whole foods instead of processed foods, but it doesn’t change the fact that these companies are trying to sell to you by saying things like this brand of chicken is “farm raised” over another brand of chicken – when in actuality – aren’t all chicken’s raised on some sort of farm?? Or that another brand will tell you their chicken is only fed a vegetarian diet of grains when chickens aren’t actually vegetarians at all and eat worms and bugs too. It’s a sneaky sneaky game they play. ;o)

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