2011.04.20 Maybe it’s time I start ignoring product labels

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

A while back, I was looking at a label on a ketchup bottle in a local restaurant when the owner, not unfamiliar with this column, confiscated it, saying, “I’m taking this back before you end up writing about it.” Actually, I ran a ketchup column way back in 2000 so he had little to worry about. Other product labels, however, are still fair game.

A box of Raisinets recently followed me home and was good for a chuckle or two. A blurb on the front panel bragged that they were a “Natural source of fruit antioxidants.” The info about those natural antioxidants being coated in milk chocolate full of artery-clogging saturated fat is saved for the back of the box.

The box front also features artwork of a medal claiming the product is a “Best Taste Award Winner.” The box back explains the award is given “to the brand rated highest overall among leading brands by independent professional chefs.” Can’t you just imagine Chef Gordon Ramsey leaving Hell’s Kitchen long enough to judge Raisinets? I suppose he’d say something like “These look like they’re raccoon droppings, but they’re bloody delicious!”

While I’m talking about taste, I should mention my disapproval of the way some companies try to fool my taste buds. Another recent purchase was of a liquid product billed as “Strawberry Kiwi” and “100% Juice” on the front. But check out the ingredient list and kiwi is the fourth of five different juices listed, followed by strawberry. 

First juice in the list is apple, followed by grape (white grape, I’d bet) and pineapple. Then came the two juices I thought I was buying. I actually like pineapple juice, but why mix it with strawberry? Obviously to save money by using cheaper juices, but charging like it was only strawberry and kiwi. If they had simply called it “Fruit Punch,” I would probably have passed it by.

Another bottle, labeled on the front as “100% Apple Juice,” made me feel like a world traveler by the time I finished the contents. I know some companies combine several varieties of apples in an attempt to improve the taste, but this was ridiculous.

This brand’s ingredient label listed apple juice concentrate from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China and the United States. Drinking a glass was a little like visiting the United Nations, only in liquid form. I hate it when my lowly glass of apple juice has been in two more continents than me.

But it could be worse. Some companies, probably in an attempt to cover as much of their corporate posterior as possible, list every possible eventuality on their label. That way, no matter what they end up putting in their product, and wherever they end up making it, not to mention what’s happening in the adjacent assembly line, no one can accuse them of leaving it off the label.

Take, for instance, a can of chocolate-covered cashews I recently purchased (after I finished the Raisinets). I learned that the company is from Jersey City, New Jersey, but that’s the only thing about the snack they’ll willing to state without a doubt, except that it’s packed in the United States.

The “product” itself is “from USA and/or Canada and/or Malaysia.” Not ambiguous enough for you? There’s the cashews, which are “from Vietnam and/or Brazil and/or India and/or Africa.” After they are gathered from one or all of those areas, they are roasted in “Peanut and/or Cottonseed and/or Sunflower and/or Canola Oil.”   

And those suffering from allergies should be aware that the facility in the USA, Canada, Malaysia (or any possible combination thereof) uses “milk, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, sulfites and sesame products.” So, no matter what food may cause you or your family problems, there’s a fair chance it was somewhere in the plant the cashews came from.

In fact, the more cashews I eat, the queasier I’m beginning to feel myself. But I’m not yet sure if it’s a food allergy and/or acid reflux and/or food poisoning and/or my imagination. Maybe I’d better read the label on the bottle of Tums. What could it hurt?

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017