6 Producer Tricks That Make Products Seem HEALTHIER than They Really Are

Greenwashing is a hip word which means the practice of deceiving consumers by making cliché sustainability claims in an attempt to win them over and tempt them to buy for the love of the environment. So what is fitwashing about?

Anna Urbańska

Fitwashing is just the same, but in the context of healthy products. You buy them because you think they are diet-friendly and have superior ingredients, and you feel you are paying for premium food that is good for your health. The reality is that it’s just marketing at its finest. Learn about 6 common but very sneaky tricks that can lure you to buy things you don’t want. Read on to see how.

‘No sugar added’, but is it ‘sugar-free’?

Take a look at these two nutrition fact tables for two brands of strawberry jam. Are you able to figure out which one doesn’t contain any sugar?


Jam X

Jam Y


142 kcal/100 g

214 kcal/ 100 g

Total fat

<0,5 g

0,4 g

of which saturated acids

<0,1 g

0,12 g


33 g

52 g

of which sugars      

33 g

47 g


0,7 g

0 g


0 g

0,04 g

Jam X is actually jam with sugar, and jam Y is jam without sugar, you can even find it in diabetic store sections. However, it contains almost 3 teaspoons more sugar per 100 g! This is not any kind of unlawful manufacturer practice. If we analyse the ingredients, jam Y was actually made without added sugar or sugar syrup. But it does contain concentrated grape juice, which means a lot more simple sugars.

Jam X contains good old sugar, which comes second on the list of ingredients. While grape juice adds some extra healthy nutritional values besides pure simple sugars to jam Y, this does not change the actual quality and ‘healthiness’ of the product in any meaningful manner. If you care about cutting your calories and eating less sugar, jam X will be a better choice, the one that has sugar in it.

How to avoid being misled?

Don’t be fooled by the ‘no sugar added’ claim on packaging and don’t automatically assume that such products are healthier and lower in calories. It’s always a good idea to compare nutrition labels, too. You might be surprised!

Exceptional situation on the market for raw ingredients

Recently, because of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, some ingredients are in short supply. For instance, sunflower oil tends to be harder to get. This is not intentional, but manufacturers have to replace some ingredients with substitutes. That’s why sometimes you will come across products where sunflower oil has been replaced with palm oil, for example.

Product labels, however, are printed well in advance. Because of that, the European Union allows producers to label ingredient changes by means of additional stickers or embossing on the packaging. These can appear in non-obvious places, like next to the use by date. This is not a typical example of fitwashing, because it’s not a scheme, but you should definitely keep it in mind.