Fine Print on Labels at the Grocery Store

Organic, natural and cage-free can confusing terms to the consumer.
3:00 | 02/17/14

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Transcript for Fine Print on Labels at the Grocery Store
That's up from 21 in 1970. Now tonight a consumer watch dog investigation to the confusion labels at the grocery store, organic, natural, cage-free? New answers to that question. Are we buying what we think? Here's ABC's David Kerley. Reporter: Head down the grocery aisle and you are bombarded with labels. Natural, whole grains -- but do you really know what it all means? Look at this cereal box. Pictures of berries. Are there any inside? The only fruit in this cereal is dried apples. Reporter: That's Michael Ja Jacobson who has been battling misleading labels for decades. The food industry thinks this is a war and their livelihoods depend on your buying their product, Reporter: Jacobson says that cereal has red and blue food coloring added to look like berries. How are they able to do that? Even though the F.D.A. Says labels can't be false or misleading, it also says just because there's a picture of berries that doesn't mean you're actually getting pieces of berries. Kellogg's says this picture just depicts the flavor of the product. A recent consumer reports survey found that a third of those questioned think that natural is the same as organic, which it's not. The term "Organic" is tightly regulated, but the F.D.A. Has no definition for the use of the word "Natural." And a lot of products use that term. But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of non-natural stuff inside. This drink mix says, "Natural lemonade flavor." You may envision a lemonade stand, but look at the ingredients. They include artificial sweeteners, and a list of hard-to-pronounce synthetic substances. But it's one of those buzz words you put on a product. More people will grab it, people might pay a little bit more for it. Reporter: Kraft puts less than 2% of anything natural, part of which is lemon flavor. How about cage-free eggs, that can cost as much as 60% more. You may be thinking chickens out in a pasture, but if it doesn't say "Pasture raised," it may look more like inside this building. The chickens certainly aren't caged, but they aren't ranging far. It's better than if they were in a cage, that's for sure. Reporter: And one more thing, on pow tri products you might see notice saying "No hormones." Well guess what? Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones or steroids. So they're basically saying that they're doing something that they couldn't do anyway. Reporter: So where will you find the real answers? Our expert says it's in the fine print, the ingredient list. So don't forget your glasses the next time you shop. David Kerley, ABC news, Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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