Use food labels to know what you're eating? There's a 1 in 4 chance they're wrong

food labels
food labels

The handy little Nutrition Facts label affixed to most packages you'll find in the grocery store was intended to help make it easier to make informed choices about what to eat. That only works if what's on the label is really in the package.

About one out of every four labels tested is inaccurate, found, based on the findings of lab tests, interviews with food testing experts and government reports. The most likely ones to flunk are on products dedicated to people with specific dietary concerns -- such as those targeting people on low carbohydrate, low sodium or low sugar diets.

"People depend on food labels to help them make choices. People expect those labels to be accurate," said Lisa Lillien, founder of, which sends a daily e-mail newsletter to more than 820,000 diet conscious followers. "Not having strict laws, and/or not having whatever laws are in place enforced can be a very dangerous thing."

Food companies largely self-police, with almost no government oversight, even though the labels themselves are required by a federal law that makes it illegal to use inaccurate or misleading information on a label.

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's enforcement was minimal and disorganized and recommended greater vigilance.