Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Food Label Guide by the FDA

I stumbled across this insightful food label guide by the FDA in the United States! It clarifies a lot ... check it out!

Certain claims on packaged items are regulated by the FDA. A product with the following statements must abide by several restrictions:
  • Fat Free: Less than half a gram of fat per serving
  • Low Calorie: No more than 40 calories per serving
  • Sugar Free: Less than half a gram of sugar per serving
  • Low Sodium: No more than 140 mg of sodium per serving
  • High, rich in, excellent source of: 20 percent or more of the recommended daily value of the nutrient
  • Less, fewer, reduced: 25 percent or less of the named nutrient

What are some other marketing terms that aren't standardized by the FDA?
  • Organic: Must meet the USDA standards for organic production, without most synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically engineered ingredients. Being labeled "organic" has nothing to do with the calorie, fat or sugar content of a food. 
  • Natural: Only regulated by the FDA for meat and poultry products. This label means "no artificial substances." Companies use the term "natural" on their products hoping that it will catch the eye of a health-conscious consumer; the product may not be superior to its competition.
  • Local: Not a monitored claim. Shop at markets and nearby farms to know that your food is coming from a "local" source.
  • Free Range: A USDA definition for eggs and poultry where chickens have "access to the outside," no other specific spatial restrictions are given. "Free range" beef and pork labels are not regulated. Know your manufacturer and the company background to be safe about your meat choices.
  • Made with Whole Grains: A general term with a broad meaning. The product may be 99 percent refined grains, while 1 percent is actually whole grains. "Multigrain" is another overused word stating that the food is made with several grains. At least half of all grains eaten should be whole grains; make sure that "whole" is contained in the ingredient list.
  • Lightly sweetened: Another expression that is not controlled. Lightly sweetened is variable, depending on the size of your sweet tooth!
  • Fiber: A product "high in fiber" may contain the isolated, added fibers such as inulin, maltodextrin and polydextrose; these types haven't been proven to offer the health benefits from fiber found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

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