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Common Mislabeled Food Product & Tricky Nutrition Claims

Have you ever seen “OAT MILK”, “SOY MILK” or other plant-based milk alternatives on the shelf of supermarket?

Well, surprisingly, naming a milk alternative of non-mammal source is illegal. In the Canada National dairy code, “milk” specifically refers to “a normal lacteal secretion free of colostrum obtained from the mammary gland of a dairy animal”, with the exclusion of plant-based beverages.

The label of “milk” tends to have an inside message that they serve the same nutritional benefit as milk does. However, plant-based beverages might not be as nutritious as milk in terms of protein, fat, calcium and Vitamin A contents.

Other labels that can be misleading include “no added sugar”. According to FDR, the food labeling “no added sugar” 1) must not have added sugars and ingredients containing added sugars or sugar (Sugar means all mono- and disaccharides, such as fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, etc; Ingredients can include sweetening agents, molasses, fruit juice, honey and maple syrup). 2) The products shall not increase the sugar content through any means except for functional effect usage and 3) the similar reference food contains added sugars. This leaves the possibility of addition of sugar alcohols as well as artificial sweetener. Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners may decrease the total calories by replacing sugar. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a decrease in carbohydrate. Think about cookies that can’t miss the ingredient of flour, yet they could be labelled as no sugar added. There are many labels and claims that can mislead consumers to believe the product to be healthier, so here are the tips:

  • Check the definition of such claims, they might not be exactly what you thought they were. (e.g. “zero trans-fat”, “organic”, “lean").

  • Make sure to read the nutrition labels and ingredient list. Remember that there can be food fraud, misleading or falsely advertising the food product. Such information on the back of the package could better reflect the composition of the food products.


Canada, A. (2020, September 01). National Dairy Code - Part I. Retrieved October 03, 2020,


Canada, A. (2020, September 01). National Dairy Code - Part II and III. Retrieved October

03, 2020, from

Government of Canada, C. (2019, January 14). Government of Canada. Retrieved October

03, 2020, from

Sethi, S., Tyagi, S. K., & Anurag, R. K. (2016). Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging

segment of functional beverages: a review. Journal of food science and technology, 53(9),3408–3423.

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