Watching out for #BSLabels

So, what’s a #BSLabel? Well, it’s one of those things that make a REAL great marketing plan…but don’t have much fact behind it. Or maybe it’s something so elementary that it isn’t needed on a label.

Like boneless bananas.

Or perhaps gluten-free fruit.

You will find these labels everywhere. And unsuspecting consumers fall for them. A lot.

Today I’m going to shed some light on one I found in my own grocery store. And it’s pretty comical…in a what-won’t-you-say-to-try-to-make-a-buck sort of way.

Check it out:

Here are two different cereal’s. One is a “natural” cereal, made with renewable energy and packaged in a box that’s recyclable! (Let’s just take this one step at a time, don’t jump ahead of me now!)

Well, maybe Mom's Best isn't really her best effort. But great marketing!

The other is a store-brand version of the same cereal (even same shapes!):

Just a plain-old sugar-sweetened regular cereal.

Let’s start off with one of it’s number one claims. (For comparison’s sake, we’ll call them Mom’s and Treasures.) Mom’s has NO high fructose corn syrup. Treasure lists HFCS on its label. But wait a minute…upon further inspection Mom’s has evaporated milled sugar, dextrose AND regular corn syrup.

So what’s the difference between HFCS and regular corn syrup? Well, basically just one chemical process. Where regular corn syrup is concentrated, making the sugar content higher, necessitating less syrup for the same amount of sweetness. That’s about it in a nutshell. (It’s way more complicated and scientific than that, but you get the picture, right? If not, Google it.)

Well, let’s take a further look at the nutritional breakdowns. That’s where I become a little surprised.

Compare the two labels...it's a little shocking to read the difference.

Here’s the breakdown:

Cereal type                  Mom’s                               Treasure

Vitamin A                        0%                                   10%

Vitamin C                         0%                                   10%

Calcium                           10%                                   10%

Iron                                     4%                                   50%

Vitamin D                          0%                                   10%

Thiamin                              8%                                    25%

Riboflavin                          2%                                    25%

Niacin                                  0%                                    25%

Vitamin B6                         0%                                    25%

Folate (Folic Acid)          2%                                    50%

Vitamin B12                       0%                                    25%

Zinc                                        2%                                    25%

So “Mom’s Best” might not actually be the “best.” But let’s move on. Hmmm…serving size the same? Check. Well, then the other information, like calorie count and stuff must be way off, right? Wrong.

According to the packaging, Mom’s has 120 calories, which includes 10 calories from fat. The same goes for Treasure. What about total fat? Same. Cholesterol? Same. Sodium? Same. Potassium? Same. Total carbohydrates? Oops. We have a difference here. Mom’s has 24 grams…and Treasure has a whopping 25 grams. Protein? Same.

Hmmm…well, the packaging. That makes a difference, right? Mom’s advertises that the carton is made from 100% recycled paperboard, with a minimum of 35% post-consumer content. That must blow Treasure out of the water, right? Wrong again. Treasure has the exact same label. Mom’s does say that the carton, “Can be recycled when it’s empty. Dig in!” Well, guess what? So can Treasure.

Guess what?!? They can BOTH be recycled!

So what’s the problem? People are free to market as they choose, right? And I completely agree. But it’s also our responsibility, as consumers, to sort through the garbage and figure out which labels have true value and meaning, and which ones are #BSLabels. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with choosing either one of these cereals…if you know why you’re choosing them.

If you don’t think there’s a difference, I have some boneless bananas to sell you.

Want to read more? Check out this post on peanut butter by The Farmer’s Life.

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11 thoughts on “Watching out for #BSLabels

  1. Great article, but for God’s sake, if you’re going to keep writing, please consult an editor. “Our’s” does not need an apostrophe (it’s possessive in its own right…just like the “its” before “own” in my sentence).

    I know, call me an a-hole but someone has to do it!! 🙂

    • Boy, I do believe you missed the point. The typo that bothered me was “minut” which I fixed. But I noticed that you didn’t complain about Mom’s having an apostrophe? I know that ours doesn’t need an apostrophe…but when Our is being used as a proper noun (the name of the cereal)…well, how about I just change the name if it bothers you that much…but thank you for the tip! P.S. I don’t get paid to write, except in comments.

      • Well, I didn’t want to point out minut…figured that was just runnin’ fast. Mom’s should have an apostrophe. Ours just does not. Here’s an example:

        Mom’s cereal is a crock of bull. Ours is not.

        Hey, girl, you keep crankin’ out good content, though.

  2. Pingback: Boneless Bananas, Hormone Free Milk & Other BS. #BSLabels « The Adventures of Dairy Carrie… I think I Need a Drink!

  3. I love this article! Thought I was being a better mom and OOPSS bought this Mom’s brand..brought it home and compared to Honey Nut Cheerios to be thoroughly disappointed…what a slack job I did on my reading that day!

    • Aw, you’re still an awesome mom! The fact that you were trying to provide “better” food proves that! But the fact is that sometimes the bold print gets our attention more than the facts do. I was thoroughly disappointed myself…and I’ve been buying Mom’s Best for a while! Silly me. Now if I purchase that cereal, it will be because I like the cereal and the price is right, not because I feel guilted into it. Don’t be so hard on yourself…now you know!

  4. Pingback: #BSLabels Roundup | The Farmer's Life

  5. Pingback: Food Labels from a Farmer's Perspective | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC

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