Misleading Product Roundup IV: Don’t Be Fooled

It’s time for another “Misleading Product Roundup” recapping the food items I’ve shared with you on Facebook. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read the ingredients before buying any packaged food. It can feel tedious at first, but as you read through these examples below I think you’ll agree it’s a necessary evil! For more posts like this, be sure to check out Misleading Product Roundup III, and III.

Teriyaki Marinade

Teriyaki Marinade: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

Want to Save this Recipe?

Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox. Plus you'll get great new recipes from us every week!

Save Recipe

I used to love this stuff, but then I read the back to see what they really put in it. High fructose corn syrup is the 2nd ingredient on the list! Not to mention the other questionable additives I do not cook with at home (sodium benzoate anyone?).

Real Food Alternative: How about mixing a few things together at home to make your own teriyaki marinade instead?
Try ½ cup soy sauce (low sodium recommended), ½ cup water, 3 tbsp honey, and 1 tbsp peeled & minced fresh ginger. You could also add some optional canned pineapple juice if you really want to emulate the pictured bottle.

Lindt Chocolate

Lindt Chocolate: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

The Lindt Chocolate ads drive me crazy. They say their chocolate is “pure” and “premium” and “expertly crafted with the finest ingredients.” Yet, when you turn it over to look at the ingredients you’ll find that almost all of their products are artificially flavored …not even the real deal! This is clearly misleading, and a reminder not to trust what these companies tell us and to instead read the ingredients to find out what’s really inside!

Real Food Alternative: I personally buy Green & Black’s 85% dark chocolate bars for a treat. The ingredients are: Organic Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Cocoa, Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Vanilla Extract. I also like Alter Eco brand products.

Rold Gold Pretzels

Pretzels: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

I know pretzels are often touted as a healthy snack, but let’s not forget the national brands are mainly made from refined white flour (labeled as “wheat flour” without the word “whole”) and a few other additives. The issue with white flour is it’s just empty calories that have been stripped of all the important nutrients (and why it’s required to be enriched).

Real Food Alternative: They’re not easy to find, but there are a couple whole-wheat pretzel alternatives out there including one by Unique brand.

Life Cereal

Life Cereal: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

Does anyone else think it’s strange that this brownish looking Life Cereal has artificial yellow dye in it? This is the same dye that requires a warning label when used in Europe (that states “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”). Between this and the fake strawberries (that are really just artificially flavored/colored dried apple pieces) in their oatmeal packets, I am really not trusting Quaker anymore.

Real Food Alternative: When it comes to boxed cereal look for one that is 100% whole grain with nothing else (or at least not much else) added. Some examples are Shredded Wheat type cereals and puffed whole-grain cereals (like brown rice).

Dasani Drops

Dasani Drops: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

How can Dasani get away with calling this “Pink Lemonade” when it doesn’t even contain any lemons? Not to mention it says “Naturally Flavored with Other Natural Flavors” on the front when it contains multiple artificial sweeteners AND artificial colors – what the heck is natural about that? This to me looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen. In the meantime *please* don’t put this chemical concoction in your water!

Real Food Alternative: Either drink plain water (which can be an acquired taste for some) or use real lemons to add some flavor.

Milk Splash

Milk Splash: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

I must admit I was taken aback when I saw this little guy in the grocery store and turned it over to look at the ingredients. The first ingredient (and what it contains the most of) is propylene glycol?? And on top of that it’s full of artificial flavors and sweeteners. If this isn’t a “food like substance” I don’t know what is – PLEASE do not feed this stuff to your kids!

Real Food Alternative: It’s super easy and takes only 2 ingredients to make a more wholesome chocolate milk from scratch: Just mix 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup and about a 1/2 cup cold milk. It takes a few minutes of stirring to get the chocolate sauce to come together.

V8 Splash

V8 Splash: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

It makes me sad that some well-intended individuals will buy this V8 Splash in the hopes of adding veggies/fruit to their diet when it means they’ll also be getting a nice dose of high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners (sucralose), and – that mysterious additive – natural flavoring. I don’t trust brands who use ingredients like this.

Real Food Alternative: Unfortunately, even if it were a higher quality juice, it would still mainly be the naturally occurring sugars from the fruits and veggies in concentrated form without any of the other stuff (like fiber) that nature intended. So for that reason, juice is just an occasional thing for us personally. I say go for a glass of water or a smoothie (that retains the whole fruit/veggie) instead! 

Ken’s Balsamic Dressing

Balsamic Dressing: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

I found this one interesting. This dressing is called “Balsamic with Honey” yet it contains more high fructose corn syrup and (refined) sugar than it does honey. Just another reminder to ignore the claims on the front of the package and read the ingredients instead. Oh and please don’t trust companies who do stuff like this!

Real Food Alternative: Many of you know by now, this is my most favorite kitchen tool for making homemade salad dressings a breeze.

WeightWatchers Smart Ones

WeightWatchers: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

I have no idea what is “smart” about this. Factory farmed chicken covered in fake grill marks mixed with white flour pasta and a bunch of additives I would never cook with at home (including corn syrup solids, shortening powder & carrageenan)? No, thank you.

Real Food Alternative: I’d much rather make my own organic creamy sauce from scratch with 3 ingredients (including real cream) instead. And thankfully it’s surprisingly easy to do!

SunMaid Yogurt Raisins

Yogurt Raisins: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

Has anyone else noticed how these yogurt covered raisins (that used to be a snack fav of ours in the old days) contain partially hydrogenated oil – a.k.a. trans fat? That’s the same artery clogging trans fat that the government recently admitted was no longer “generally recognized as safe” and therefore will be banned going forward. There’s also some other questionable stuff on this ingredient list so I’d say skip this bag of coated snacks.

Real Food Alternative: How about some plain (and preferably organic) raisins instead?

Progresso Bread Crumbs

Bread Crumbs: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

Italian bread crumbs should simply be good quality whole wheat bread plus some seasonings. Yet, Progresso makes theirs with dozens of unnecessary refined additives including high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil (i.e. the same trans fat I mentioned above), several dough conditioners that I can’t even pronounce, preservatives, and the wonderfully evasive “natural flavors” ingredient.

Real Food Alternative: Why put this mess in your body when it’s so easy to make your own? I’ve got a super simple recipe in my cookbook, and all you have to do is add Italian seasoning when you’re done!

Mt. Olive Relish

Dill Relish: Misleading Product Roundup IV on 100 Days of #RealFood

Isn’t it amazing how a product as simple as relish can be tainted with artificial food dye (the same dye that requires a warning label when used in European countries)?

Real Food Alternative: For a relish without unwanted ingredients look for a brand called Bubbies.


So what did you think of this list? Learn anything new?

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but 100 Days of Real Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us spread our message!

About The Author

93 thoughts on “Misleading Product Roundup IV: Don’t Be Fooled”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I am trying to get a grasp on all the ingredients to watch for but to be honest after reading so many labels they all sound the same:( what are your thoughts on Luna bars?

  2. Awesome! !!! Thanks a lot. I personally used Progreso bread crumbs several times for 10 years (before open my eyes) now I have your book and I’m planning to make them my self since I already baked the bread. So, just turn on the oven!!!! :)

  3. I really appreciate you bringing these items to the attention of those who are being mislead by sneaky marketing schemes. I’m hopeful that with the whole food movement that is occurring people will begin to realize that it is important to know you’re eating well because you are certain of the ingredients that it contains, and not because the food packaging claims it is “healthy”.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. If you take another look you will see that Lisa provides real food alternatives for each product. :)

  4. If Lindt Chocolate makes it to the Hall of Fame for their ads I would like to nominate Applegate’s Black Forest Ham for the next misleading product round-up. They say: “Marinated in sugar and spices, this deli meat is prepared in the tradition of true German Black Forest hams – slow cooked with a hearty smoking.” This is a lie. Applegate’s Black Forest Ham has nothing in common with the original. The original is a dry-cured (not cooked!!) smoked ham which – if sold in Europe – needs to be produced in the Black Forest Region of Germany. It is also not marinated in sugar. Applegates just borrows its name to make their own stuff sound fancy and does not even try to mimic the original. In addition, Applegates uses the preservative celery powder, which is banned in Europe. If something is banned in Europe and even a warning label is not enough to make it legal it must be seriously dangerous, right?

  5. Yesss!! Thank you for including Life Cereal! I’ve been trying to get my husband to stop eating this junk for so long! He claims it as his only vice as a snack in the evening and he has tried healthier alternatives, but it’s still his favorite :-( I remember it being one of the only cereals my mom allowed us to eat growing up, because it contained a lower sugar content- I wonder if it had yellow dye in it back then?

  6. Have you ever noticed that Juicy Juice, while 100% juice, despite the flavor, is mostly just apple juice with a little bit of other juice, or flavorings? Some of V8’s stuff is only juice, but you’ve got to really watch out!

  7. The Milk Splash is the most shocking. I can’t believe that there are actually products in our grocery stores that are mostly additives and artificial ingredients with absolutely no ingredients that are actually of nutritious value. What’s worse is that so many of them are marketed towards kids.

  8. Thank you for these posts. I like to consider myself someone who doesn’t buy many processed foods anymore, but this makes me realize how far I still have to go. I’ve been toying with the idea of making my own dressings and marinades lately, and this just pushed me over the edge! So again, THANK YOU!

  9. Oh one more comment- investing in a juicer is so worth it. Make your own “v-8” with fresh ingredients. I have trouble getting my kids to eat vegetables, but when I juice them, they love it.

  10. Thank you for posting things like this. I shop mostly at whole foods and signed up for full circle deliveries each week. So we eat mostly organic and whole food, but every once in a while, I’m in a hurry (whole foods is 45 mins away, walmart is 10 mins away) and grab an item like this and think it’ll be fine. But these posts keep that in check. I love to see your kids’ lunches on pinterest too. I’ll be purchasing your book soon too. Thanks again!

  11. Thank you for this informative post. I am appalled at the chemicals that are being used in our food. As I read about the ingredients used in children’s foods, especially the milk splash item you featured, it makes me so sad and angry. I look at my kids, both under 4, and wonder why on earth is no one banning these harmful chemicals? Most people are so unaware and I am grateful to have found Lisa’s cookbook and this great blog. Let’s keep getting the word out and work together to protect our food system.

    1. Our government agencies which are supposed to protect our food supply have been infiltrated by people with an agenda. The best rule of thumb is to just don’t buy processed foods at all. All juices and drinks that are sold are just not healthy because they are heated before being packaged, therefore they do not have any beneficial enzymes which the body needs to stay healthy. Make your own juices for the kids using fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables – always avoid sodas, especially those that come in aluminum cans, there is suspicion that some toxins from the aluminum get into the soda, beer, etc. and this can negatively effect the brain. As for milk, milk products, ice cream, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, etc — read this letter a doctor wrote to his patients — http://www.notmilk.com/kradjian.html

  12. I haven’t had my V8 juice this week. I have only had water with lemon or hot plain tea for the 2nd week’s challenge. Lisa or anyone have a recipe for making your own version of V-8 low sodium spicy hot juice (or smoothy) in a blender or food processor.

  13. Lindt alternative: Aldi sells house-brand milk and dark chocolate bars for 99 cents that are made in Germany, contain real vanilla only, and have no natural or artificial added flavorings. In fact, they almost meet the five-ingredient test.

  14. Lisa, this is wonderful information, although I have been processed free for 2 years now and 82lbs loss. I have your book and I love it. The recipes are incredible, especially the raisin bread loaf, which i make all the time. Thank you again for showing everyone healthy eating is not hard to do.

  15. A good alternative for frozen convenience meals are the Amy’s Organic products. Yes, they are processed food. But pretty much everyone needs a quick convenient meal now and then, and their ingredients FAR surpass the quality of any other frozen convenience meal I’ve seen in grocery stores.

  16. Can you post some of the salad dressings you like to make? I’m ordering the bottle! Also curious if there are smaller batches, so we can try new recipes without “committing” to the whole container so we aren’t wasteful :)

  17. Obviously what they sell as lindt chocolate over there in the US is not the real thing. Look on the back to see where its manufactured….if its in the US it isn’t real anyway. It should say kilchberg schweiz or switzerland. Alternatively it could say Germany, which has a factory as well. Both countries have strict food regulations and they aren’t allowed to use crazy additives or wacky artificial favoring. Try a German store or bakery to find the real thing. Milka is also very good.

    Jessi from Berlin

  18. I must say all I can talk about is your book, this week is the 2nd week of the chalange you gave us but we started our own chalange no store brought bread, we have made bread the last two weeks – we are still 1/2 white unbleached flour and 1/2 whole its hard to get Hubby onboard with no white but -yummy and so nice to know some of the bread is less than 5 ingrediants. For lunch today I made a Gabata sandwich , and tonight we are having your Potato soup and whole chicken in the crock pot – my kids love the chicken , husband loves the soup and I love making my own stock – the list above is proof that the last two weeks of eating only home made is worth it!!! LOVE your BOOK – Trudy (Wisconsin)

    1. Have you used whole white wheat flour? the King Arthur brand (orange label) has always worked well for me. It tastes so good and the bread comes out pretty light in color, definitely enough so that if you switch it he might not even notice.

      1. Mishele,
        Thank you I will try that for sure grocery shopping today – he is onboard with other changes but the white bread and pasta :) we will get there.

  19. I was so disappointed to find Glucose Fructose +30 other ingredients in my bread crumbs Aurora Italian Style – my mom always used them Ive only every bought/used them I think all my sibling buy/use them too. Great article! Thanks ;)

  20. Guilty of purchasing two of the items, teriyaki sauce & bread crumbs – I try to steer clear of processed foods. Great article!

  21. I love that you write these posts! Some people need this kind of a breakdown to really get it and your posts are always so insightful. They provide information and make people think!!!

  22. Thanks for this post Lisa!

    Just FYI, those Kolder salad dressing bottles are still $5.99 on Amazon… I ordered one last week but might get another! :)
    Used it last night for the first time and love it.

  23. I was reading about coconut sugar the other day. I found it today and was wondering how you feel about it. The box says organic, pure and unrefined, non gmo. The only ingredient is organic coconut sugar. What do you think?

  24. Went to the grocery store to buy water today for our travels and I literally walked up and down the aisle looking for a snack for about 10 minutes but decided the water was good enough, now after reading this I am so happy with myself that I didn’t grab those convenient snacks but instead went home and baked ur lemon/raspberry muffins and zucchini bread which I must add the kids are loving.

  25. I have a devil of a time finding pickles without artificial coloring around here, so not surprised at all about the relish. I can find one brand in a grocery about 20 mins away from me. Sigh. (My town has no natural food stores, and the three groceries that are here, while they are slowing expanding their organic options, still don’t carry pickles or mayo.) So 20 mins I drive…

    1. I would highly suggest make your own refrigerator pickles. I originally started making them in summer months, when cukes and dill are in season, but now make them year round to avoid artificial colors in most commercial pickles. Also, dye free pickles are sold at our farmer’s market.

      3 cups water
      6 T vinegar
      2 T kosher salt

      Layer cucumbers ((slices, spears or a combination) alternately with fresh dill. Cover with brine. Place 1-2 chopped garlic cloves on top. Refrigerate for 2 days before eating.

      I usually slice and chop and let my 7 year old to the rest.

  26. I think you have to watch for changes in labels too. I used to drink the V8 splash when I was pregnant many moons ago because I couldn’t choke down any vegetables. I’m sure it was 100% juice…that’s why I chose it.

  27. Thank you for naming a brand of relish without artificial colors! I was so sad that I couldn’t find a single jar without HFCS being at or near the top of the ingredient list! Food coloring snuck right by me. I will be trying Bubbies soon.

  28. threesidedorchid

    Cynthia, I make what I call mexican hot chocolate at home just using cocoa powder, vanilla extract, almond extract (very, very little), chili powder, cinnamon and salt. (and milk of course). I haven’t had a lot of pre-made mexican hot chocolates, so it’s hard for me to care, but it seems good to me.


    There’s not a lot of things I can buy these days at the grocery – not boxed/premade, but I don’t even buy things with ‘natural ingredients’ so I’m pretty limited. I wouldn’t even have picked up any of the things on this list unless I expected to make an ‘exception’.
    I once got into an argument with a whole foods employee about whether all of their foods were really good for you or not (ingredients-wide, not fat/sugar wise), which is pretty sad considering i’m not *that* picky.

  29. Oh no I have those breadcrumbs in my fridge right now! I am so careful about what we eat around here and they totally slipped right past me. Well, there you go, my mom always put them in her meatloaf so i did. Into the garbage. By the way I have your cinnamon raisin bread on my counter and it is delicious. Four year old loved it. Thanks

    1. I’ve gotten into a great pattern of making my own. I take the leftover heel of bread from our weekly bread-machine loaf, cube it, toss it into the freezer in a big gallon bag. Then, when I need crumbs, I just blitz them in the food processor and add herbs/oil, etc as needed.

  30. Cynthia – Look for Taza Brand cholate tablets. They have regular, cinnamon and Guajillo Chili. Organic inredients and similar to Abuelita tablets.

  31. Please note: If you were able to find unsweetened dried cranberries, you would not want to eat them. Sour! :) Thanks for the great info! I was just lamenting over the so called “healthy” choices in the cereal aisle today.

  32. I was grocery shopping last night and we were in the mood for Mexican hot chocolate. We have been making hot chocolate at home with unsweetened cocoa powder and adding a little bit of organic sugar for sweetness (I know I should be using honey instead). I have not been successful with making a Mexican hot chocolate version, so I went to buy the Abuelita’s chocolate. I was surprised to read the list of ingredients! No cinnamon nor nutmeg, the flavor comes from artificial flavor. Not to mention the other stuff that’s in there. I even took a picture to send to my boyfriend and told him sorry I just can’t buy it and he totally agreed. So, sad and disappointing. I grew up drinking this and will not and could not purchase another package again.

    1. Don’t apologize that you are not using honey over organic sugar – you are still leaps and bounds beyond what most people are drinking! Good for you!

    2. Please don’t feel that you need to apologize for not using honey over organic sugar. You are still leaps and bounds beyond what most people drink! Good for you!

  33. I hate how Craisins puts a blurb on their bags saying they have x amount of less sugar than raisins leading some to think they are a healthier alternative. If you get a good raisin it is nothing but a sun dried grape, nothing added. Craisins have added sugar. I would rather have the natural stuff with nothing added. Can’t wait for label changes to show how much added sugar is in things!