How to avoid misleading food labels

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 19:56:33-05

A recent report seen on 60 Minutes has a lot of people wondering if the labels found on their food are honest or deceptive. 

The show that aired on CBS Sunday night exposed that many extra virgin olive oils, imported from Italy, have been tampered with. It revealed that most of the oils were diluted with sunflower and canola oils, two ingredients that consumers won’t find on the labels.

Leigh Wagner, a registered dietitian with The University of Kansas Hospital, says buyers should be weary.

“There’s a certain level of blind trust that we put into our food system,” Wagner said.

The olive oil isn’t the only product you’ll find the shelves of your local super market with deceptive labeling.

“It’s a similar issue that honey can get cut with corn syrup or other syrups or sugars that aren't actually pure honey,” Wagner said.

Shoppers have been taught that if they want to know what they’re eating, the solution is simple: Read the labels.

-- However, Sunday’s report shows that’s not enough.

What should shoppers do when reading the labels aren’t enough?

Wagner, who writes the blog Good Karme and teaches a cooking class, says shoppers should pay attention to the price tag on the foods they buy.

“Making sure that it’s not the cheapest oil on the shelf because you can pretty much guarantee that that’s not going to be an authentic extra virgin olive oil,” Wagner said.

Wagner also suggests asking questions about where the food comes from.  Although, when it comes to the oils from Italy it likely won’t help.

“I encourage people to ask their grocery store buyer if they can run into the produce person and ask them questions or if they can go to a farmers market."


Jessica McMaster can be reached at

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