Obvious food labels

Me, reading package: “‘Tea is a Gluten Free Beverage.’ [yes, it was capitalized like that]  Well, yeah, it’s tea… are there any beverages that aren’t gluten-free?”

Husband: “Uh…”

“I guess if you put non-dairy creamer in coffee that would maybe have glu-”

“Beer.”

“Oh yeah.  Beer.  Definitely beer.”

As you can tell, we don’t do ingredient-avoidance diets.  Or drink beer.  (Wine, on the other hand…)

Really obvious labeling on food tends to amuse me.  At least “Gluten Free Beverage” could perhaps represent some kind of standard, indicating that the company was committed to avoiding cross-contamination to ensure that those with celiac disease could safely enjoy its product.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, though.  More likely they’re just pointing out tea’s natural lack of gluten as an advertisement.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before.  Extra-virgin olive oil with a shiny “Zero Carbs!” sticker.  Marshmallows that proudly proclaim they are Fat Free!  (Like every other marshmallow on the shelf.)  Aligning yourself with the latest food fad is a good way to make your product look healthier than the competition without actually doing anything different.

But my favorite superfluous food label has nothing to do with health fads and everything to do with not wanting to be sued.  Or maybe just mass production.

At some point when I was roughly middle-school-aged, my mother purchased a large tub of peanuts at the grocery store.  It was a transparent plastic container, about as wide as a dinner plate and several inches tall, clearly containing uncountable numbers of shelled peanuts.  Across the top, in block letters, the label warned, “May contain traces of peanuts.”

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