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We live in strange and confusing times when it comes to food.

Although supermarkets are larger (new Ingles stores are all over 80,000 square feet) and choices and options abound, it often seems like we have more to be frightened about when it comes to food, or at least that’s what it seems like on social media. As we scroll through our Facebook or Twitter feed and see shocking headlines about our food, our food supply or a particular ingredient it’s hard not to be concerned. Food marketers don’t help when they plaster products with “free-from” claims so they can gain a competitive edge. Sometimes it takes a little detective work before you can decide what’s fake news, and what are the facts.

It is probably FICTION if:

1. The site or URL is something other than (-.gov), (-.org) or (-.com) – all of these often indicate more legitimate websites.

2. The headline includes words like “toxic,” “poison” or statements like, “___will cause_____.”

3. The image seems very shocking or sensational. Note: You can do your own reverse image check and see where and when the image came from. Search on “reverse image search”.

4. If claims are made about the food or ingredient that are unrealistic, e.g. “Lose 10 pounds in 3 days,” “Cures cancer,” or “You can stop taking all of your medication.”

It is most likely exaggerated or overblown if:

1. It’s a food, an ingredient, a diet plan, supplement or a study being endorsed by a celebrity (athlete, author, star) who has no training or education in nutrition or science.

2. If only one study is being quoted and they don’t link to or provide adequate information on the study.

3. If only one study is quoted and the study was done on rats/mice.

4. Before you can learn more about the product or ingredient you have to sign up for a newsletter, pay a fee or consent to providing your phone number or email address.

The bottom line:

1. Be a little skeptical before you embrace information, and don’t share or retweet it unless you know it’s true.

2. Consider the source. Look for reputable websites and information by starting with sites that end in .gov, .org, or .com as a more likely source of reputable information.

3. Consult an expert who has education and training in that field if you are unsure or have questions.

Want to know more?

Talk to Leah: Leah McGrath is the corporate dietitian for Ingles Markets. Follow her @InglesDietitian. Contact her at Lmcgrath@ingles-markets.com, 800-334-4936 or at www.ingles-markets.com/ask_leah.

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