Why packaged foods look better on the box
Darcy Wintonyk and Lynda Steele, CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2012 3:04PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 14, 2012 3:09PM PDT
If you’ve ever been fooled by packaged food that looks delicious, only to come out sub-par, you’re not alone.
North Americans spend more than 100 billion dollars a year on processed food, including canned, frozen and boxed products.
But while what's pictured on the packages often looks delicious, so it can be a real disappointment when food doesn't match.
Consumer Reports decided to test out a shopping cart full of products after receiving complaints from shoppers.
Testers evaluated more than three dozen products, everything from broccoli to bacon to sweet treats.
"Some products did appear as pictured. But we found others whose photos didn't come near reality,” said Tod Marks.
A package of Tabatchnick Tuscany Lentil Soup that shows pretty red and green vegetables has an obvious lack of vegetables once the soup is heated up.
And while the spaghetti and meatballs on the Banquet box look appetizing, the actual meatballs are smaller and the spaghetti is in pieces, not strands.
Some products fared better in testing, but lacked in other departments. The Barbecue Steak dinner from Healthy Choice does look like what's shown on the package, but there's less than you'd expect.
Marks suggests that unsatisfied consumers should contact the company.
“The worst that can happen is maybe they'll give you and apology. But the best that can happen, you get a free product,” he said.
Food stylists use an army of tricks to make food look picture perfect on the box, although some of them aren’t very appetizing.
Some food photographers use WD40 on brownies for shine, build salads on top of piles of mashed potatoes, poking the leaves in individually to look lush.
Brown shoe polish will also be applied to meats to look dark and succulent.
The moral of this story: Don’t judge every product by its picture.