Misleading marketing is particularly disconcerting to me because so much of my career has been spent helping others understand the ingredients in the products they buy. Truly understanding ingredient and nutrition labels is difficult enough, but companies that intentionally trying to mislead consumers is downright unfair, especially when the consumer is my nine-year-old son just trying to help his mom pick out GMO-free foods at the health food store.
So there we were, my son and I perusing the aisles in search of healthy snacks, when my son picked up the product below thinking it was perfect.
Here’s how the conversation went:
“Mom, look at this. No GMOs,” he said, pointing ecstatically at the bag.
“Great, let me read the ingredients.” I said.
"Unfortunately we can’t buy it,” I said, trying to soften the blow.
“Why? It says no GMOs,” he said.
“It’s a classic case of misleading marketing,” I explained.
I had to tell to my son that the company was trying to mislead consumers. The word GMO circled with a red slash across it would lead most consumers to think that the product was free of GMO ingredients. But look a little closer and see the label reads that only the legumes, grains, and vegetables are GMO-free. In reality, the product isn’t GMO-free at all.
Here is the full ingredients list: Non-GMO navy beans, non-GMO dehydrated potatoes, non-GMO rice flour, non-GMO sunflower oil, canola oil, non-GMO potato starch, non-GMO carrots, non-GMO sweet potatoes, maltodextrin, sea salt, onion powder, sugar, konjac flour, garlic powder, citric acid, natural flavour.
If you look closely at the ingredients list you’ll see that while the main ingredients: navy beans, dehydrated potatoes, rice flour, sunflower oil, and carrots are non-GMO, these other ingredients: canola oil, maltodextrin, and sugar are likely to be GMO (otherwise they would have gone out of their way to claim it to be non-GMO like the other ingredients they identified–especially for highly likely suspects such as canola oil and sugar.)
It’s confusing to me why they would go to the effort to only partially reduce GMO ingredients. It’s sort of like reducing trans fat or going half gluten-free.
In the end, this product still contains GMOs and only serves to mislead consumers into thinking they are buying a GMO-free product, when in fact they aren’t. To be 100% sure if a product you are purchasing is in fact 100% GMO-free, look for the Non-GMO Verified label.
This product is has officially been added to our 'Worst Offender' list.
Product image credits: Andrea Donsky