Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Deceptive Marketing - No Sugar Added

It really gets me upset the way corporations purposely mislead the public to sell their products.  I discussed one example a while back in my post about Disney Princesses and Marvel Superhero children's multivitamins. The was a specific example, but with this article I wanted to discuss a form of misleading marketing that is more wide-spread: The use of "No Sugar Added." or "Sugar Free" on product labels. With so much of the public trying to maintain healthy lifestyles, companies have tried to alter or re-market their products as healthy while giving people the flavor (i.e. sweetness) they secretly crave. It's all about sales, baby. And while supply meeting demand is a good thing in theory, when you add unscrupulousness corporations into the mix, you end up with deceptively marketed products. That is why so many products you find labeled as "no sugar added" contains one of the following sugar substitutes: 

  • Aspartame - Equal or NutraSweet
  • Acesulfame K, also known as acesulfame potassium - Sunett and Sweet One.
  • Sugar alcohols - sorbitol, xylitol or maltitol
  • Saccharin  - Sweet'N Low
  • Sucralose  - Splenda
  • Neotame
(You don't see Stevia in many products right now, but as it gains popularity I'm sure you will).

I am not about to start debating with you about whether these items are good, bad or the devil incarnate. Conspiracy theories abound, and no one really trusts what the FDA says so getting to the truth of the matter is nearly impossible. What I will say is that, as a parent, I try to avoid giving my children unnatural (i.e. chemically produced) products, and it irritates the hell out of me when companies deceptively market products such as these to kids. I cannot tell you how many people I know who have gotten fooled by this marketing, and even though so many of us do know what's happening, no one seems to want to call the corporations out for it. Why? Because of the ingredients list on the back of the package, but most of us don't have the time to check the packaging of everything we eat, and the corporations know it.  That's where I come in. :)

For the sake of journalism, I took a walk around my local grocery store and photographed some examples to illustrate my point. Yes, I looked like a fool and people stared. That's how committed I am, or should be committed... whatever.

So here goes...

Sugar Free Jello Pudding - Contains xylitol,  acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

Del Monte  - Mandarin Oranges (No sugar added) - Contains sorbitol,  acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

Del Monte - No Sugar Added Sliced Pears  - Contains acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

Nesquick -  Chocolate (No sugar added) - Contains acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

 Sugar Free Syrups - Mrs. Butterworths - Contains neotame,  acesulfame potassium, and aspartame


So kids, the moral of our story is... CHECK THE LABELS!

Always, always, always check the labels of the products you buy. It's a pain in the neck, but totally worth it in the long run. I hope some of you have found this helpful. If you know anyone who might benefit from this information, please pass it along.  Thanks!

Tell me what you think or add to the discussion in the comments section below.


  1. Thanks for this post. My Chiropractor teaches a nutrition class and said there is an ingredient in Mountain Dew that is the same chemical that people use to clean hot tubs with...I have been drinking a lot of water since that visit...

    1. This made me laugh so hard! I'm a Pepsi junkie, and my dad likes to point out how he uses Pepsi to clean the corrosion off his car battery. I still drink Pepsi. :P

  2. It stinks but we really have to question everything. We can't even trust the FDA to be on our side. Thanks for doing the work!

  3. Gahh, I hate this phenomenon! I am super-sensitive to artificial sweeteners; it seems that my body reacts to the sweet taste by getting ready to digest sugar, and then when there isn't any sugar I start to feel very strange, shaky, cold, like things are bright and dark at the same time. I really can handle artificial sweeteners only in chewing gum. It's frustrating that they're turning up in "no sugar added" canned fruit--unlike pudding or syrup, fruit could have no sweetening at all, so why should I have to beware of fake sugars in it?! At least the examples you found say "artificially sweetened" in fairly large letters on the front of the label; I have seen products that don't.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I hate this so much! I like to buy my LO canned fruit or apple sauce for those times when I run out of fresh fruit in the house and don't feel like going shopping, and I always used to look for products without any added sweetness, because I actually LIKE the taste of fruit. By itself. Crazy right? I think I sort of grew up knowing that "sugar free" meant it had some kind of added no-calorie sweetener, but when I started seeing "no sugar added" I figured that meant nothing was added, so that's what I bought. One taste of some "no sugar added" canned peaches and I spit it out and threw the can away. Sucralose. Yuck. I can tell with one bite if something has sucralose in it and I find the stuff disgusting. Now I know to look at check the labels as well, but it would be nice if companies dropped the deceptive marketing and labeled their products clearly. I would just like the FDA to designate one label for products that are unsweetened. Even "natural" doesn't mean what should.


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