Redundant food claims are food claims that are unnecessarily placed on products by manufacturers with the intention to create a ‘health halo’ effect, to make a product appear more attractive to shoppers.
With the current trends of following a gluten free and vegan diet, manufacturers are placing these claims wherever they can to draw more customers to their product. These health claims on packaged products influence/encourage consumers to believe a product is healthier or better than other similar products.
Some redundant claim examples include “cholesterol free” nuts, “vegan” coconut water and “gluten free” rice. So why exactly are these redundant claims?
- The claim ‘No Cholesterol’, ‘low cholesterol or ‘cholesterol free’ on foods derived from plants, like nuts, margarine and plant based oils are redundant because plant derived foods are naturally cholesterol free. Cholesterol is only found in animal products. However many consumers mistake this claim for also meaning ‘no or low fat’ which unfortunately is not the case. Cholesterol free foods such as nuts are high in healthy fats.
- The claim ‘gluten free’ on products that are naturally gluten free, like rice, is pointless. Gluten is a protein found in foods made with wheat, barley, rye or oats. Many consumers think gluten free means lower carbohydrate or lower calorie however this is not the case. Gluten free products are just missing the protein “gluten” and can sometimes even be higher in calories, carbohydrates and lower in fibre than their gluten containing equivalent.
- The claim ‘vegan’ on plant based foods. Anything that does not contain any animal products will be vegan. Just because a product is labelled as ‘vegan’ it does not necessarily mean it is a healthier product.
Remember to always stop and ask yourself, why am I buying this product, is it just for the health claim? Instead, always look at the nutrition information panel and ingredients list when selecting packaged products to make the best choice. Where possible, always pick fresh, minimally processed foods.
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