Beware of this word on fast food menus: “Fresh.” 

It may sound healthy. But the word has become so common, and has been used so broadly, experts say it’s now just a meaningless marketing term.

Experts say “fresh” used to mean unprocessed ingredients, and “made to order,” meaning it hadn’t been sitting around under a warming lamp. So, it became code for “superior quality.” 

In fact, a lot of customers incorrectly assume that “fresh” means local, freshly picked and healthy. 

But fresh doesn’t necessarily mean anything of the kind. It could mean anything from “fresh out of the freezer” to “freshly re-heated.” And it doesn’t have anything to do with how healthy or low-calorie something is. Take, for example, the “fresh crispy chicken salad” from one fast-food giant. It contains 450 calories, and 21 grams of fat – which is about the about the same as a double cheeseburger. And several national pizza chains advertise “fresh pizza," despite the fact that their “fresh ingredients” are delivered in a freezer truck. 

Bottom line: Words like fresh, organic, low-fat, and low-sugar are designed to get you to buy. 

To find out if they’re actually healthy, you have to do a little digging. That means, start reading labels. Or get an app like “fast food nutrition” for Android, or “fast food calories” for the iPhone. That way, you can find out about the fat, calorie, sodium and sugar content.