Top 4 Misleading Food Packaging Tricks to Watch Out For

Food marketing is a big business — and most of us don’t even realize it. We know that commercials and ads are marketing, but did you know that the color, placement, and specific words on a package are also deliberately put there to make you buy or eat more? Let’s look at the top 4 sneaky ways that food packaging can mislead us. 

1. Shelf Placement 

Food marketers will try to place bright packaging with characters, celebrities, or athletes right at eye level where a kid would be walking. This is no mistake! They want your child to gravitate towards that bright-and-shiny cereal box and request that you buy it — and these products also tend to be less nutritious. Try looking higher up or down to see if healthier options are out of your eye line. 

2. Colors

Different colors are thought to make you feel different emotions. For example, red evokes feelings of urgency — and is often linked to higher sales, too. Yellow colors are associated with stimulating appetite and good moods — both things that grocery stores want you to feel, so you buy more. Green resembles organic, natural, or eco-friendly vibes, while blue colors are linked to calmness and soothing. Although these things aren’t necessarily bad, they can be helpful to be aware of. 

3. Watch the Wording

Some words or phrases sound like they would be put on healthy food, but in reality, they don’t mean much. A good example is the term “all-natural,” which isn’t a tightly regulated phrase, so manufacturers can slap the label on just about anything — healthy or not. Other words are more regulated but may not apply to that food. For example, adding the words “vegan” or “gluten-free” to a bottle of olive oil may make it seem healthier — but all oils are inherently vegan and gluten-free!  

4. “Health Halos”

Similarly, a food with a “health halo” means that an item’s nutritiousness is overstated by one single claim, like being low in calories or fat. This can be seen with fat-free ice cream — people tend to eat more of it or think it’s a healthier item because of that buzzword of “fat-free.” Rather than falling for health halos, look at the food or drink as a whole. Turn it over and look at the nutrition facts label and the ingredients, then decide for yourself if it’s truly healthy or if marketers were trying to trick you again.

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