Super Bowl 2013 Snack Warning: Don’t Get Punked By The Junk

Super Bowl snack buyers beware — an “all-natural”  potato chip is likely still just a fat- and calorie-laden potato chip. As game day approaches, the Leanwashing Index reminds football fans to look out for its “Banned Food Words” when shopping for party snacks and even in the ad blitz during the game.

Released in January, the “Top 5 Leanwashing Terms of the Year” will come in handy when Super Bowl shopping. These are marketing terms that mean nothing, yet make you think you’re making a healthy choice. The following words and phrases all appeared in ads for everything from sodas to chips that consumers have posted on, a free consumer-driven educational tool that allows people to rate food advertising honesty.

Natural: The word that has no nutritional or legal definition yet appears on millions of packages, including sugar-laden sodas. Ignore it.

Made With: Food products can advertise they are “made with” liquid from the fountain of youth, even if fountain of youth juice makes up less than one percent of the final product. Ignore “made with” unless you are willing to read the entire ingredients label to make sure it’s not also “made with” tons of sugar and unpronounceable chemicals.

Whole Grains: Unless “whole grains” is preceded by 100 percent, watch out. Tiny traces of grains may have prompted the claim, and it’s especially tricky when paired with the other banished phrase, “made with.”

Light: Consumers must decide if 24 grams of sugar in a yogurt container is really “light.” Don’t let advertisers hypnotize you with this word. Read the nutrition information, read the nutrition information, read the nutrition information.

100 Calorie: Cookies, chips and other processed snacks are marketed in 100-calorie packages, leading consumers to believe what’s inside is a healthy choice. Many of these should be labeled “empty calorie” packages.

EnviroMedia launched the Leanwashing Index in 2012 with input from a panel of advisers representing public health, academia and the food marketing industry.

Says Leanwashing Index advisor, author, and former food marketing executive Bruce Bradley, “There’s already been interesting pre-game buzz around Super Bowl 2013’s ads. While it looks like Coke is back to selling sugary drinks after recently debuting a thoroughly leanwashed obesity prevention spot, a Twitter campaign has convinced Taco Bell to yank its veggie-mocking ad. And in a rare Super Bowl food ad bright spot, it’s encouraging to see Wonderful Pistachios score a slot in the big game.”


Consumers can post and rate real ads at 2013 Super Bowl Ad Previews are posted here. Which ones will and won’t Leanwash?