Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Food Labels

While the FDA may not always enforce such things, it has established standards for the language that can be used on food labels. If the manufacturer (gosh, should that word even be used in association to food?) does not follow the guidelines, you can double check the product label to know this as well. Here are thirteen label descriptions and what they should mean:
  1. Free: food contains none or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of a given item such as fat, hydrogenated oils (trans fat), saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars or calories.
  2. Low fat: food must have 3 grams or less total fat per serving, be sure to check serving size on label, while it may be packaged to look like a serving, the label may use more servings per package to make the product sound healthier.
  3. Low saturated fat: 1 gram or less saturated fat per serving (same caveat on servings per container) and no more than 15 percent of a serving's calories from saturated fat.
  4. Low sodium: Food must have 140 mg or less sodium per serving.
  5. Very low sodium: 35 mg. or less sodium per serving.
  6. Low cholesterol: 20 mg or less cholesterol per serving.
  7. Reduced: as in reduced fat or reduced sugar, product must contain at least 25 percent fewer calories than the standard product from which it was derived.
  8. Light: as a reference to nutrition not color, must contain between one-third to one-half the amount of fat than the original product.
  9. High: Product must contain at least 20 percent or more of the daily value for a given nutrient per serving.
  10. More: Product must contain at least 10 percent more of the described nutrient than the original product.
  11. Good source: most often misused with regard to wholegrains, must contain 10-to-19 percent of the daily value for the indicated nutrient.
  12. Lean: Meat item must contain less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per serving.
  13. Extra lean: Meat must contain less than 5 grams of fat, less than two grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per serving.
Of course the key is to always read the label and the serving size that is indicated in order to "make the numbers" for the claim. If the FDA is too understaffed to police the guidelines on labels, it's up to us.

1 comment:

flutter said...

oy. Food labels make me have a migraine, honestly