Halos are usually an indication of good. The whole angels and demons thing. Unfortunately, a health halo turns an indication of saintliness into devil horns.
A health halo is the act of using a healthy characteristic to make an unhealthy product seem more worthy of your dietary rotation. They’re another tool in Big Food’s bag of tricks. Let’s look at an example:
That’s a sugary soda touting its antioxidants. You’re likely aware antioxidants are good for you. Even if you’re not sure why. A food manufacturer will use that to fool you into thinking sugar-water is healthy. Or, at least, better than Sprite. Make 7 Up yours.
Another more sinister, and more common, example:
I LOVE these chips. But for the taste, not the organic seal. Organic is all the rage these days (I’m a big supporter). In fact, organic sales grew nearly 8% in 2010 compared to only 1% growth in total US food sales. Food manufacturers have taken notice.
So you’ll now see everything in organic form. But an organic unhealthy food remains, alas, an unhealthy food. They’re using the organic “halo” to make my delicious chips seem healthy. Bastards.