The snack-food industry is a major economic force in the U.S. and it’s hiding secrets from customers that could change the way they eat.
Here are 10 things snack food companies won’t tell you, according to The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch:
1. We spend big bucks to reach your kids
- Snack food makers spend some $1.8 billion every year on advertising targeted to children 11 years old and younger. Research suggests that for every hour of TV a child watches, they are 18 percent more likely to eat candy and 114 percent more likely to eat fast food.
2. Our ingredients have a big ick factor…
- Scientific-sounding ingredients often mask a less-than appetizing reality. For example, “carminic acid” and “cochineal extract” refer to a dye made from beetles.
3. …And some are banned in other countries
- Azodicarbonamide, or ADA, is found in roughly 500 packaged foods made by more than 130 brands in the U.S. But it’s not allowed in the European Union because it’s been connected to respiratory problems and allergies.
4. Expiration date? Who cares?
- “Best by” dates encourage retailers to restock and reorder the product more often, but often times, non-perishable foods that are well-sealed, kept away from light and have low fat and dairy content can last longer beyond their so-called expiration dates.
5. Our factories could be filthy
- The FDA does not inspect every food manufacturing facility every year, even those producing “healthy” snacks.
6. ‘Caution: Contains arsenic’
- Arsenic – a toxin linked to cancer – occurs naturally and is absorbed by plants from soil and water. There are trace amounts of arsenic found in many grains, fruits and vegetables and particularly high levels are found in race.
7. That energy bar may exhaust you
- There’s often enough sugar in an energy bar as there is in a chocolate bar, and all that sugar can leave consumers with a nasty crash once the sudden jolt wears off.
8. ‘Natural’ is meaningless.
- It sells, but slapping “natural” onto food labels doesn’t necessarily mean that snack is from the earth. Natural products are defined as those that don’t have artificial colors or ingredients, according to the Agriculture Department, which regulates meat and poultry. But the FDA, which regulates other types of food, doesn’t watch snack food makers’ use of the word as closely.
9. ‘Enriched’ means processed
- “Enriched” means vitamins and minerals have been added to the food, but usually only after they were first removed.
10. You may be overpaying for our chocolate.
- Grocers and retailers have accused chocolate manufacturers of illegally scheming to keep the sweet’s prices high.