Making NonSence of Food Labels

This piece in Time on food labels is frustrating.  In trying to help consumers “make sense” of food labels, they only confuse the situation – making several unsubstantiated claims and linking to dubious sources to support other claims. 

For example, here is what they say on the label hormone free:

There is a long list of health concerns tied to hormone-filled meat, from prenatal developmental problems to early puberty and infertility. Though the evidence isn’t always reliable, some studies have shown growth hormones from certain foods can disrupt human hormones and can even contribute to breast and prostate cancer.

If you click through to all three of the links they provide above, none actually shows what the piece purports they show.  The first link is to an advocacy website for “sustainability,” which in turn mainly references some European Union reports but not any actual studies published in peer-reviewed journals.  The second link is to a website about cancer, which discusses the correlation between meat eating and cancer, but says nothing about how added growth hormones used in meat production relates or does not relate to cancer.  The final link is to a scientific study that has nothing to do, as far as I can tell, with the use of subtherapeutic hormones given to cattle in feedlots.  Ironically, the scientific paper is about chicken meat, but broilers in the US are not given added growth hormones, so I’m not sure what the link has to do with what the authors are claiming.

Now, I’m not saying there are no problems with hormone use.  For example, there is evidence that growth hormones can lead to less tender beef.  But, generally these are concerns about eating quality not safety.

Another example is when the piece discusses pesticide use it says:

If a food product has  the USDA Organic certification, it’s usually pesticide-free, too.

That statement is absolutely false.  Organics can use a long list of “natural” pesticides, many of which are just as toxic as synthetic pesticides.         

Why is it so hard for Time to put out on objective piece on food labels?  It goes to show how much misinformation there is on food floating around that even when one wants to “set the record straight” they can’t find a good place to turn.