Your food may not be what it says it is.The state of Florida found, among many food label inaccuracies, that a Walmart Coconut Pie labeled sugar free contained sugar.Based on the findings of lab tests, interviews with food testing experts and government reports, Walletpop.com reports that approximately one in four food labels tested is inaccurate.And guess which labels are most likely to be incorrect?Yes, you’re right- the ones for people with special dietary needs, like low sugar and low carb.Walletpop quotes Lisa Lillien, founder of Hungry-Girl.com, who says “People depend on food labels to help them make choices. People expect those labels to be accurate.”I second that!Lillien continues,”Not having strict laws, and/or not having whatever laws are in place enforced can be a very dangerous thing.”Unfortunately, this is the current situation.Walletpop reveals that the US Food and Drug Administration’s enforcement of food label accuracy is almost nonexistent.And below are highlights from the Government Accountability Office’s September 2008 report:
• FDA does not have reliable data on the number of labels reviewed; the number of inspections, which include label reviews, has declined. For example, of the tens of thousands of foreign food firms in over 150 countries, just 96 were inspected by FDA in 11 countries in fiscal year 2007—down from 211 inspections in 26 countries in 2001.
• FDA’s testing for the accuracy of nutrition information on labels in 2000 through 2006 was limited. FDA could not provide data for 2007.
• Although the number of food firms in FDA’s jurisdiction has increased, the number of warning letters FDA issued to firms that cited food labeling violations has held fairly steady.
• FDA does not track the complete and timely correction of labeling violations or analyze these and other labeling oversight data in routine reports to inform managers’ decisions, or ensure the complete and timely posting of information on its Web site to inform the public.
The bottom line:If you don’t know what that long unreadable ingredient, E-polypapasmurfmonoglyceride #6242, listed on your sandwich bread label is, or how many grams of carb it has, you shouldn’t feel uninformed and stupid; the FDA doesn’t know either.The best thing you can do is eat natural food whenever possible.An apple, a handful of raw almonds, and a glass of filtered water might not be as much fun as an orange drink manufactured in China (that contains a whole 10% real fruit and 90% E-polypapasmurfmonogylceride #6424),but at least you can identify and account for what you’re putting in your mouth.