Calling a spade a spade (or "guacamole")
In his most recent column, Marc Gunther points out that many food labels are misleading. Do you think that Kraft should be able to label its dip "Guacamole" when it contains less than 2 percent avocado? Or is it OK as long as the ingredients are disclosed on the packaging?
Posted by Deirdre Terry 10:19 AM 26 Comments comment | Add a Comment

It's worse than that.Think of all the people on diets,i.e., gluten-free, for instance. We are not to eat wheat, barley, or rye. The new labeling law only speaks to wheat, not the others. The problem multiplies when food companies have no idea what is in the foods they manufacture since various ingred. came from another company. They don't ask for a list of ingred...AND ingredients change every so often. The problem also arises when taking drugs. Celiacs must check with drug companies on all the drugs they may need to take. The only way I eat is to avoid processed foods as much as I can.
Posted By Betty Wyckoff, Overland Park, KS : 11:06 AM  

Personally I only eat real guacamole that was made fresh. I find the pre-made stuff that comes in a container absolutely disgusting. It tastes like green oil.

No, I don't believe that it should be called guacamole. Maybe "processed avocado flavored dip" would be better.
Posted By Paul, Issaquah WA : 11:15 AM  

Quite frankly, you are just seeing the tip-of-the-iceberg. I have been in the food business for 17 years and a huge portion of food is not what it seems. That "freshly" grilled chicken sandwich you ordered at the restaurant mostly likely came to the restaurant already cooked, loaded w/ preservatives, and grill marks already on. If people really want to see what they are being served, attend a food service distributor show in your area, you'll become concerned. You local mom and pop or high end restaurants aren't usually the culprits, but where and what most Americans eat, is premade, precooked, grill marks present, bagged, etc. just ready to be assembled oops I mean "freshly prepared" by that Chef in the back of the kitchen or worse yet, that lunch server at your children's school. We need to become better informed as a country with 60$% of its people "obese". It isn't only the quantity of food we consume but the quality of it as well.
Posted By Jennifer, Monterey, CA : 12:32 PM  

I think Michael Jaconbson's quote "You shouldn't have to read the small print when you visit the supermarket."is taking the responsibility off consumers, just as saying "video games are harmful" takes the responsibility off parents. People should read the fine print when it comes to everything, whether it be the food they put into their bodies or the contracts they sign. We need to take responsibility for ourselves and cannot rely on corporate America to do it for us, or we will wake up to some very unpleasant truths. We already are.
Posted By Stephanie, San Diego, CA : 12:49 PM  

Your point about trust is right on the money. The marketers can tell you how many sales they induce by their deceptive labels, but the loss of business due to lack of trust is something they don't talk about -- and not just because it is difficult to measure.

Maybe every large corporation needs an ethical ombudsman to keep them on the level.
Posted By Mike Vaughn, Needham, MA : 1:01 PM  

Look at that list of ingredients from that Kraft product! It's loaded with partially hydrogenated pruducts and chemicals...I really don't think it even qualifies as food. A more accurate label might be "Laboratory Created Food Substitute/Human Being Killer: Guacamole Version"
Posted By Jeffrey Smith, Chicago : 1:21 PM  

When the Soviet Union came crashing down, it had imploded from within; and, one reason for its fall, was that its citizens could no longer trust their government and their businesses.

The United States could suffer from the same kind of implosion from within, if Americans no longer trust their leadership, government agencies, corporate executives that make fair decisions on products, banks using fair lending practices.

Misleading food labels are just one of many reasons, that Americans are losing faith in those large entities that make a difference in their lives and in their budgets.
Posted By Joyce Hays, New York, NY : 1:26 PM  

Any person who believes the Enviga product will burn calories is about as intelligent as a gnat. Read the label! It says how much needs to be consumed by an 18-35 year-old in order to burn 60-100 calories (36 oz). Try a 10 minute brisk walk instead. Regarding food products which do not contain more than a negligible amount of the named product, Facsimile comes to mind. It's kind-of catchy, but I'm not sure how much Guacamole Facsimile Dip would actually sell. Have they recommended produce labels contain a warning, "May Contain eColi?" YUM!Regardless, the FDA and manufacturers both have a long way to go to build consumer confidence.
Posted By Robin, New Rochelle, NY : 2:18 PM  

I think the country is just on the TIP of the iceberg in dealing with the dangers of partially hydrogenated oils. After studying Physiology and other courses, you can't help but ask how did this lousy excuse for a food group get passed?
Sometimes I wonder what goes on in those board rooms.
Posted By Gary Granger, Memphis, Tn : 3:39 PM  

Where is the news? It is buyer be aware, more than ever. There are so many ways to sell snake oil and too many fools ready to buy. A few examples, Organic foods, lite foods, Natural foods, Healthy foods, all meaningless generaltizations ment to decieve and promote product to undereducated comsumers. The list is almost endless.
Posted By harodl i kinchen, merced,ca : 4:12 PM  

I wish the Government would stay out of it. If somebody can't read a label, it's not anyones job to read it for them. Let me have my Trans-fat and my hydrogenated oils, my cigarettes, and my way of life. Stop trying to control everything.
Posted By B.S. Los Angeles CA : 4:35 PM  

The sad part is that the "guacamole" dip mentioned contains not only partially hydrogenated fat (trans-fat) but partially hydrogenated COCONUT oil (one of the worst fats). Real guacamole, on the other hand, contains not only a lot of good monounsaturated fat, but other nutrients as well. And I'll bet it tastes better too. More expensive? Buy the avocado and make it yourself!
Posted By Mary Kerrigan, Columbus, Ohio : 4:49 PM  

If you want to eat fresh and healthy foods you might try learning how to cook! In other words, how about being responsible you own life? Oh, wait, if you don't eat fast foods or prepared foods, then who can you sue if you get fat?
Posted By Don, Mount Prospect, Illinois : 4:57 PM  

I had never heard of Enviga until Marc's article. I think it is the consumer's responsibility to read the label... no matter what the product is.

I don't think the product is available in my area, but I will certainly give it a try. I love the taste of green teas (as well as the health benefits), but don't like all the calories that come along with it.

As long as it tastes good, count me in.
Posted By Simon, Smyrna, TN : 5:08 PM  

i cant believe that anyone would have been naive enough to actually think they were purchasing 100% avocado guacamole.
all you have to do is READ THE LABEL. if a consumer feels mislead by this product, then they might as well avoid shopping altogether.
i have personally bought this product, and i sure as heck knew it wasnt the real mccoy, even without checking the label.
Posted By chris hinton, petersburg, il. : 5:11 PM  

Just look at those nasty ingredients on the kraft dip. It should be the ingredients "poster child" for what much of what is wrong with American processed foods and resulting American waistlines. Corn syrup + hydrogenated oil, yuck! Two nasty, unhealthy ingredients right there. I won't touch anything with hydrogenated oil or corn syrup. It's expensive, but shop whole foods or similar healthy foods chain. You'll be amazed how much better food can taste when it's not frankenfood.
Posted By chris, bernardsville, nj : 6:48 PM  

Why eat powdered guac? Just get some ripe avocados, chopped onion, a little chopped tomato and some epazote and fold over a few times; add a little lemon and salt. Simple, quick and doesn't give you a stomach ache like processed crap make by Kraft.
Posted By Katrina Millsquip, Red Rock, AZ : 6:51 PM  

Guacamole is going to be the downfall of the U.S. like the Soviet Union, huh. Read the dang label and you won't be surprised. Predicting the downfall of the most free thinking nation in the world is a bit far fetched.
Posted By Genius, L.A., CA : 7:09 PM  

It's true the food companies are misleading us, but ultimately the people are to blame. The general publc is poorly educated when it comes to proper nutrition, and I'm afraid most of us really don't care that we know nothing about it. We are a society of convenience, and of what looks and tastes good. Afterwards, we pop a multivitamin and hope everything is better. This laziness on or part leaves us susceptible to these kinds of marketing tactics.
Posted By Chris, Los Angeles, CA : 7:21 PM  

I am surprised the US still allows partially hydrogenated fats in food. When I was growing up in India the government used to give out a partially hydrogenated lard substitute called Dalda through rations to the poor. But by the time I was in high school they had almost banned the product as they realized the health costs on the system was more than the money saved in the ratio system.
However I think the author was a bit too harsh on the green tea drink. The thing is if this replaces soda it is at least taking away the calories which would have come through the soda and the little amount of calories burnt from speeding up the metabolism is better than 0 calories burnt by Diet coke
Posted By Prabuddha , Austin Texas : 9:05 PM  

Drink real green tea for as little as 3 cents a cup and eat a real avocado for as little as 50 cents.
Posted By Eleanor, San Antonio, TX : 11:30 PM  

The fact is that the companies are labeling their products. If the products were not labeled, they would not be allowed on the market legally. If there is a problem, it is with the consumers who don't read the labels. Ignorant or lazy consumers have no right to point any blame at the companies, consumers are free to choose not to buy low quality or artificial products. That's the beauty if the feee market... so read the lables, they are there for a reason!
Posted By Marisa Huff, Long Beach, CA : 1:02 AM  

Drink real green tea for as little as 3 cents a cup and eat a real avocado for as little as 50 cents.

Right on,

keep up these articles, because it raises people's awareness of the delusions in their dietary habits.
Posted By Peter, Dordrecht, Netherlands : 5:42 AM  

Chances are, unless you have made a homemade pumpkin pie, you may never have had real pumpkin in a pumpkin pie. The FDA allows something called blue hubbard squash to be canned and called pumpkin. At the end of the day, it's really no big deal. However, what bothers me is that the government is pulling the wool over our eyes. And high fructose corn sugar? I saw it in bread the other day. We should all make a point not to buy products with high fructose corn sugar, the government subsidized fattener of America.
Posted By E.G. Schwetje, Mt. Airy, MD : 7:37 AM  

Shame on us, the American People who allow corprate America to mislead us so. The FDA who is supposed to protect the consumer - seems to care more about saving a buck for the corporation than the health of the people it is supposed to uphold.
Posted By Yonida, NJ : 11:54 PM  

I am A graphic Designer from SCAD-Savannah College of Art and Design, I don't understand why the FDA continues to allow all these horrible ingredients, such as high Fructose-corn SYRUP, Yellow-5, Color that? Artificial Flavor. Who wants any Artificial going into their system.People are blind. There not taught about these ingredients, they need to be. Shame on the Gov. and the FDA on letting this continue for so long. When will it stop. The average person in a grocery store wont even look at the expiration date on what they buy, what makes you think there going to look at the small print ingredients. Something needs to be done. Its our health, and our children's future.
Posted By Savannah, GA : 10:27 AM  

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