Label Trickery: What ‘Light’ Really Means

Posted in Nutrition Labels

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That holds true for everything, from that new diet pill that promises to help you lose weight without exercising or eating less, to the big-letter label claims on your favorite foods and beverages.

Case in point: Welch’s Light Grape Juice Cocktail


In this case, “light” simply means less juice and more chemical ingredients. Take a look.

(Serving size 8 oz., 70 calories, 0g fat, 80mg sodium, 17g sugars)

Filtered Water, Grape From Concentrate (filtered water, Grape Juice Concentrate), Grape Juice, Calcium Gluconate, Malic Acid, Natural Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Grape Skin Extract, Ascorbic Acid), Calcium Lactate, Sucralose (Splenda), Acesulfame Potassium. No artificial flavors or colors added.

Decoding the Fine Print

Okay, I’ll admit it, they had me at “half the calories.” But after reading the fine print on the back label and comparing this product to Welch’s “regular” grape juice, our sleuthing staff declared the lighter version a “healthy food imposter.” Here’s why:

  • The light version contains 60% LESS JUICE – that’s probably why they call it a “juice cocktail”!
  • Sure, it contains one-half the calories and less sugar than the regular version, but that’s only because all the natural sugar went out the window along with most of the nutrition and flavor.
  • They added a bunch of additives to compensate for the lack of juice (read: flavor), two of which are artificial, chemical sweeteners.

Gulp! Not quite the healthy juice drink you were looking for, huh?

Reality Check

If you love Welch’s Grape Juice as much as we do, then stick with the 100% juice version that gets our BestBrand Stamp of Approval. Drink it and you’ll get all the nutritional benefits, plus that delicious Welch’s Grape Juice taste. What you won’t get is anything artificial! Take a look.


Welch’s 100% Grape Juice

(Serving size 8 oz., 170 calories, 0g fat, 20mg sodium, 40g sugar)

Ingredients: Grape juice from concentrate (filtered water, grape juice concentrate), Grape Juice,
Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C). No artificial flavors or colors added.

By the way, if calories are an issue, simply cut the serving in half (from 8 ounces to 4) and add a few ounces of water. Do this and you’ll say goodbye to half the calories but not the taste!

The Lesson

  • Don’t get sucked in by big-letter front label claims that sound too good to be true.
  • The “light” versions of most juice drinks may sound like healthier alternatives; however, manufacturers usually compensate for the lack of calories (read: sugar/carbs) by replacing much of the juice with water and then adding chemicals to boost the flavor. Don’t you feel sort of cheated?

Let’s recap: When shopping for a healthy juice drink look for varieties that offer 100% juice on the front label, not those “lighter” wannabe cocktails packed with a bunch of chemicals.

Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.

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In Our Opinion: The information contained in the eBrandAid e-newsletters is strictly based on the opinions of the eBrand Doctors. We have created a set of guidelines that we believe will help shoppers to better understand and decode food labels on products found in most grocery stores. Our mission is to help shoppers find the healthier brands that have the least amount of chemicals and other junk ingredients.

One Response to “Label Trickery: What ‘Light’ Really Means”

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