Healthwashing, it’s a relatively new strategy used by some to promote product sales. Zeroing in on our desire to be healthy and heightened awareness of what we eat. As a B Corp brand founded on honesty and integrity, we find the confusing and frankly misleading health messages that pepper our industry particularly frustrating. So, here’s a little guide to help you navigate some of the most common claims.
Low sugar / sugar free – we now know that too much sugar is bad for us, so this kind of wording goes straight to our wellbeing psyche by implying a healthier option. But, to deliver a sweet taste these products are often packed with artificial sweeteners and/or sugar polyols e.g., Aspartame, Saccharin Xylitol, Erythritol. Artificial sweeteners must carry a laxative warning - guidance which hints at the effect they have on our systems!
Natural Ingredients – surprisingly, there is no legal definition of the term “natural” in EU or UK law. Regulations regarding its use are open to legal argument, so anybody can claim to be it. Yikes! All food ingredients were once natural, but it’s the multiple levels of processing that strip out all the goodness.
Healthy – it's the mental and physical state we all strive for, so it’s easy to see how this word lures us in. But healthy in relation to what, a cheeseburger?!
Fortified with – this nifty but nasty trick draws our attention to the benefits of a nutrient whilst distracting us away from less wholesome ingredients, like high levels of salt or sugar.
Good source of – Good, sounds good doesn’t it, but good in relation to what? These sources rarely relate to our recommended daily allowance. A good source of waffle more like.
Made with real ingredients – sounds natural and gives us all the homegrown feels but what does it actually mean?! Synthetic, processed products are real, so reaaaally what are we eating? Check the ingredient list, if it has a complicated name it’s more likely to be artificial.
No artificial colours / flavours – these attention-grabbing terms hint at natural, but often conceal a whole heap of saturated fats, sugars and more. A tricksy bit of distraction.
Our top tips:
Ingredient lists are organised by weight. The first ingredient on any list is the item a product contains the highest percentage of, on a typical chocolate bar this is usually sugar!
If you can’t buy or identify an ingredient that you would find in your kitchen cupboard, it’s more likely to be processed and less likely to be natural.
Watch out for terms like “no added sugar” on drinks cartons. Juices might contain no added sugar, but a truck load of fruit goes into each serving, more than you could eat at one sitting! Juicing fruit and veg strips it of healthy fibre and it’s the fibre that prevents the glucose spikes caused by the sugars in them.
Beware of refined sugars being deconstructed and hidden in terms like corn sweetener, corn syrup, glucose syrup, fructose and high-fructose corn syrup. Also, look out for synthetic sweeteners masquerading as sucralose, saccharin, aspartame and acesulfame.
Want to know more about the ingredients that we use to make our chocolate? Click here