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Never trust food labels

Food 4 Less, a Kroger company found mostly in lower income neighborhoods of Los Angeles, CA.
Food 4 Less, a Kroger company found mostly in lower income neighborhoods of Los Angeles, CA.
VL Jackson

The old adage “Seeing is believing” may not apply universally; certainly, where food product labeling is concerned, you may need to see on various levels. Examining the label and the contents, if visible, are both of vital importance when you need to determine if what you are about to buy and then consume is safe for your particular diet. Labels do not always warn of allergens; in fact, they frequently do not even accurately represent what the main ingredients of the product actually consist of.

For some reasons foods sold in the Los Angeles area are frequently prone to being mislabeled. It’s bad enough when a lot of food items are not labeled in English, even if produced and/or packaged in this country. To assume that all residents speak other languages rather than English is not only discriminatory but highly insulting considering they are being distributed here, and purchased with American money. When someone is unable to ascertain what is in something for consumption, there is an inherent danger that one or more ingredients may be hazardous to the health of some consumers. How is anyone to determine if they will be safe when using a product if they are unable to read the label?

Another danger, often, again, a local problem, is the lack of labeling whatsoever, or incorrect labeling. A good example of such negligence is the Kroger subsidiary, Food 4 Less. Aimed at lower-income neighborhoods, this supermarket chain is not always careful about the labels they put on deli foods they sell. Sandwiches, for example, can be found in many of their outlets with the basic information such as the type of filling and bread incorrect. For those who may have reasons to avoid such foods as eggs, meat, or wheat, misinformation like this can have results ranging anywhere from inconvenient to lethal. On a recent occasion, when the branch in Panorama City (coincidentally, immediately adjacent to El Super, another problematic store—is incompetent marketing contagious?) was found by a shopper to have a turkey and cheese sandwich labeled as “egg salad” and the actual egg salad sandwich not labeled at all, the staff acted like it was not even worth discussing.

The first associate approached about this incident barely spoke English and shrugged it off. The second staff member was also rather uninterested; he said since the sandwiches were all the same price, what difference did it make? When the potential for some consumers becoming ill and suing the company was pointed out, it still took a bit of persuasion by the customer to have the errors corrected. (Oh, and by the way, if looks could kill, the third staff member, who did put new labels on only two sandwiches, would be up for murder.)

When store chains and their staff appear to have no regard for product label integrity they obviously don’t care about their clientele. Maybe Kroger can afford lawsuits; but can the public always afford the possible impact on their health and safety? Disrespect for customers always eventually ends up causing loss of patronage. Take note, Kroger and Food 4 Less.