Health and Wellness
June 28, 2007
Just how confusing are our labels? In a recent SupermarketGuru.com Consumer Panel Survey, we found that over 66 percent of shoppers are reading food labels completely. However, less than 25 percent of those shoppers actually question what the claims mean. Each issue, we will dissect just what the claims really mean on the product's package. This month: Energy Bar.
“Energy” – Calories! Any food with calories is an “energy” food!
"Healthy" - The food may contain no more than 3 grams of fat (including one gram of saturated fat) and 60 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. The food must also contain 10 percent of the daily value of one of these nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein, or fiber. "Healthy" individual foods must contain no more than 300 milligrams of sodium; prepackaged meals can't exceed 480 milligrams. There is no limit on the sugar content in "healthy" food.
"40-30-30" – The ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fat (made popular by The Zone diet). Generally, the high fructose corn syrup is replaced with protein and fat.
“Excellent Source Of”, “Rich in”, “High in” - "High," "Rich in," or "Excellent Source" - 20% or more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient per serving
"All Natural" – Can mean anything. No nutritional meaning. This claim is not regulated by the FDA.
"Natural flavor" - The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act defines "natural flavors" as: "the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating, or enzymolysis, which contains a flavoring constituent derived from a spice, fruit, fruit juice, vegetable, vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf, or similar plant material; meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. This broad definition simply means that "natural flavors" are extracts from these nonsynthetic foods.
"Simple Carbs" – Simple carbs contain smaller molecules of sugar, rather than long chains like in starches. Simple carbs are digested quickly and absorbed more rapidly.
"Low Glycemic Index" – Uses the glycemic index, which describes and ranks carbohydrates according to their effect in blood glucose levels. Foods with lower glycemic index cause less fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels.
"Superfood" - Foods considered to be super include those high in omega 3, which is good for the heart, and anything high in vitamins. There is no official definition of a superfood.
"Cold-processed" –This is a term that is used on oils to give the consumer the impression that the oils have been pressed more naturally, since some consumers know that heat hurts oils. Cold-pressed has no legal, biochemical, or technological meaning. A more truthful label would be "unheated during processing".
"Good Fat" - Good fats are the naturally-occurring, traditional fats that haven't been damaged by high heat, refining, processing or other man-made tampering such as 'partial hydrogenation'.
"Alkaline-forming" - Produces an increased ability to energize the system