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Nutritionist points out common misconceptions behind deceptive food labels

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With hot weather already setting in, you may want to pay extra attention to the items you put in your shopping cart. But how do you know if the packaging is telling the truth? Studies show some labels may be misleading customers.

More than 60 percent of Americans look for products labeled "natural," but that label may be deceiving. According to Consumer Reports, more than two-thirds of Americans think the phrase means more than it does.

Nutritionist Jourdan Lewis said a big mistake many families make is to look at the flashy phrases on the front, like "all natural, "gluten-free" or "low sugar."

"We are so mixed up in what is nutritionally healthy... Now they can put any of those things [on a label] and people think it is healthy right now," said Lewis.

Another key phrase many families mistakingly look for, and pay extra for, is "low calories." "That is what people are really looking at. They are all about calorie counting. They are not focusing on what I am actually fueling my body with," said Lewis.

Lewis said one exception is in the meat and poultry section. You want to look for words like "cage free," "grass fed" or "free range." But again, be aware of labels put there to distract you. "The 'all natural' on meats means just about nothing," said Lewis.

Lewis said it is a good idea to ignore the bold letters across the front and focus on one part of the packaging. "Turn it around. Look at the rest of the ingredients beyond what is just claimed on the front. That is where everything will be told," said Lewis.