“Read everything” may be a mantra that lawyers live their lives by, and in fact whole cases may pivot upon the fine print; however when it comes to labels, the proper reading mantra is an important one for all of us to follow. Whether it is the pharmacy or the super market it is essential that we should read the label of anything that we buy.
Reading labels on the packages of processed foods is particularly important. This is particularly true in the case of things that proclaim themselves to be ‘healthy’, ‘sugar free’, ‘low fat’, or ‘baked not fried’.
When package says sugar free, then it is obvious that some sort of sugar substitute was used; find out what that substitute is and make sure that that is not worse for your health than actually consuming the sugar.
If a package proclaims itself to be ‘low fat’ then firstly see how that has been substituted. There could be large quantities of added sugar for instance or the quality of fat added may be so bad that it may be worse than the full fat version. For instance, having good quality fat is far better than having low quantities of harmful fat such as hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is basically the trans fat that clogs up our arteries.
Also beware of those items which say they are ‘baked and not fried’. Sure they aren’t fried, but reading the package will reveal how much and what kind of fat or shortening was added to the item prior to it being baked. Here the process of cooking is not as important as the ingredients used and if it is Trans fats that are used, then it isn’t much use, the item being baked and not fried; it may as well have been!
If they say low this or that, it is likely that it is high in something else, because commercially prepared food has to be palatable and also needs to have a sufficient shelf life to make it a viable business proposition. So be a cautious and informed consumer and do yourself and your health a favor.
Another thing to watch out for is reading labels on pharmaceutical products. It is most important to look for the expiry date when you purchase over the counter medication or when you are having a prescription filled. Expired medications may actually be harmful or may have no effect at best. Also see that the correct strength of the drug is being sold to you; or again the same issues arise.