Don’t Let the Product Name or Look Fool You!

Sometimes the name of a product or how it is packaged may mislead you into thinking it is something that it is not.

Example 1:

All-in-one products are nothing new — remember Mop & Glo from decades ago? Marketers know that consumers like products that do multiple things. Take Listerine Total Care, for example.

Similar to its “total” toothpaste counterparts, Listerine Total Care claims to provide multiple benefits:

The troublesome claim here is about preventing plaque. Why? Because according to the FDA, there are no ingredients in Listerine Total Care that have been approved and proven to do this!


“[A]nother claim on the label of Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthwash is “Fights Unsightly Plaque Above the Gum Line.” This statement represents that the product fights plaque, a well-known precursor to gum disease, including gingivitis. … [N]o mouthwash with sodium fluoride as the active ingredient has been included or proposed for inclusion [in a list of ingredients approved by the FDA as an effective treatment for plaque/gingivitis]. We are not aware of any support for the antiplaque/antigingivitis claims or other statements suggesting that the product is comprehensive in function, providing benefits beyond those related to prevention of cavities. Thus, the product’s labeling claim that it will provide all of the benefits listed, is misleading and accordingly makes it misbranded …” — FDA warning letter to makers of Listerine.

In short, the FDA is claiming that Listerine Total Care is an unapproved drug because it is making health claims that have not been allowed by the agency.

Example 2:

Log Cabin has come out with a new “all natural” syrup in a traditional maple syrup jug:

If you assume this jug contains maple syrup, you would be only partially right.


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4 thoughts on “Don’t Let the Product Name or Look Fool You!”

  1. My guess is that 4% is the minimum required to be able to call it maple syrup, otherwise it would have to be called “flavored” sugar water.

  2. To “blasher” above: Look at the label. They aren’t calling it “maple syrup”. They are calling it “all natural syrup” and putting it in evocative packaging. The Listerine example is clearly indefensible. The Log Cabin example doesn’t bother me much, but it is nice to see it called out, nonetheless, as a reminder to always read the mouse print. By the way, the plastic “traditional maple syrup jug” is itself somewhat deceptive. It looks like it has a pitcher-style pour spout, but it doesn’t. The little plastic protrusion at the top is just for show. It actually gets in the way of pouring the product cleanly from the container without having syrup dribble down the outside. Log Cabin isn’t the only brand of syrup that uses this dysfunctional package.

  3. Just because they use “sugar” instead of high fructose corn syrup does NOT make it any healthier, even though many consumers will think so.

  4. I believe that years ago, Log Cabin brand contained 2% maple syrup. At least this package has double that amount.

    I’ll stick with the 100% maple for now.

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