Reading Michael Moss’ book Salt Sugar Fat, I learned something about “2%” milk.

We don’t buy much milk, and when we do we buy whole milk.  But the best-selling milk is “2%” milk.  So what does that mean?  From the book:

Through the 1960s, sales of milk plunged as it bore the brunt of public concerns about fat, both in terms of its calories and its links to heart disease.  At the same time, however, the dairy industry figured out a way to soften this blow to their business by putting the phrases “low-fat” and “2 percent” on milk in which a little of the fat had been removed.  The popularity of this defatted milk grew so fast that it now outsells all other types of milk, including skim, which has no fat at all.  But there is a marketing scheme at work in this:  The “2 percent” labeling may lead you to believe that 98 percent of the fat is removed, but in truth the fat content of whole milk is only a tad higher, at 3 percent. 

If someone had asked me to define “2 percent” milk, I would have guessed it was milk that had 98% of the fat removed.

There’s nothing inherently deceptive about the “2 percent” label, as long as you understand that whole milk could be labeled “3 percent”