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False Advertising in the Grocery Store

Essay by   •  December 6, 2015  •  Research Paper  •  1,345 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,399 Views

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False Advertising in the Grocery Store

False advertising in our society is something that we as consumers encounter more than we realize. We live in a fast track society, and the goal of the typical consumer is to get the best product for the least amount of money in the shortest amount of time. When we are at the supermarket, it is easy to quickly scan boxes and cans for signs that assure us of a quality product. Among these familiar signs are the stamps of approval from the American Heart Association and the Smart Choice program. In many cases, however, these assurances of quality and nutrition are not what they seem to be. The use of deceptive health marketing by corporations on food products is unethical. False advertising is a growing trend among businesses in our society. Many of the names consumers trust to guide them in a better lifestyle are actually paid large sums of money by corporations for the privilege of putting a logo on their product. It is up to our government officials to protect the consumers and hold these companies accountable for their false advertising.

Consumers depend on advertising to help guide them in the right direction to make healthy choices for their families. When these false claims are made then these families are the ones to suffer. Food companies have a huge responsibility that they do not take seriously. They are in the market to market themselves and get the most sales and ultimately make money and gain more business. These corporations are very aware of the psychology behind how consumers shop for these products and that many consumers shop for familiar products and labels and that is why these companies pay so much for their marketing to make labels that say they are heart healthy and healthy in general. (Preston) We are drawn to the most eye catching package and will more than likely purchase that one over the other.

Corporations are willing to pay large quantities of money for the right to a label. “In 1994, the Florida Department of Citrus paid the American Heart Association $450,000 dollars for a promotion and advertising deal that prohibited any other citrus provider from using the AHA’s logo or promotion” (Burros). The American Heart Association is aware that their system is not the most ethical, as can be seen in their refusal to call their agreements with corporations “endorsements”. (Burros) ''We call those food-certification programs or corporate relationships. None of this constitutes an endorsement” (Burros). Perhaps this is true, but to the average consumer the appearance of the AHA’s logo on a food label would indicate an endorsement from the organization.

The American Heart Association has had a long history in the area of food certification programs that have allowed corporations to buy a heart healthy logo from the organization if their products met certain questionable dietary standards. (False Advertising) One such program was started in the 1990’s, around the same time that the AHA was supporting the Florida Department of Citrus. The USDA was not convinced of the merit of the AHA’s new program, and in fact expressed disappointment that they might be getting in the way of any health labeling rules the USDA wanted to enact. However, the AHA extended the invitation for their heart healthy program to “over 2,000 corporations. The original fee that the AHA requested was an incredible $40,000 for the testing of their product alone, with the annual fee up to $1 million.” (False Advertising) The fees were eventually lowered when companies protested, and the final fees were $10,000 and up to $600,000 respectively (False Advertising). Corporations accepted these fees as a reasonable price, and products with the heart healthy logo (including sugary cereals, margarine and olive oil) arrived on shelves shortly after.

The American Dietetic Association is another name that many Americans would trust to tell them which foods to eat. While the organization does represent nutritionists who are their primary members, they also represent the views of the corporations who give them money. Some of the most startling “advertising ploys that

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