Food Label Lies Are Everywhere…How Many Have Fooled You?
Food manufacturers often place compelling nutrition claims on the front of their packages, like “Made with Whole Grains,” “Gluten-Free,” “Sugar-Free” and “Natural,” but these claims don’t mean that the product is actually nutritious.
In the past, nutrition experts have urged the FDA to outright ban front of pack (FOP) nutrition and health claims, stating that they are misleading consumers. A new study, published in the Journal of Food Science found analyzed more than 2,200 processed packaged foods and found that FOP nutrition and health claims didn’t always mean that the food was even healthy.
The authors concluded that the number and type of food label claims—are not good indicators of whether or not a food is healthy as defined by FDA.
In order to help you find the healthiest options in the supermarket, don’t read the large type on the front of packages and go straight to the Nutrition Facts panel and focus on the following line it
How to Use Food Labels (Nutrition Facts Panel) to Shop for Health
To find the healthiest choices, don’t even look at the front of pack claims and focus on these facts from the Nutrition Facts panel.
Serving Size & Servings Per Package: Without looking at what a “serving” is supposed to be in the package, everything else on the label is irrelevant. This is the one thing that most consumers completely overlook until they realize that they just ate two, 450-calorie servings of pizza. Oops.
Many packages appear like they would serve one, may have two or more portions. (This is one of the pet peeves of the FDA and IOM have about current packages that they want to change.) Having “servings per package” and “calories per package” boldly present on the front panel would help solve this issue.
Calories: That’s obvious. Many of us are overweight and virtually everyone has to be aware of calories, so be sure to look at it before buying. As a general rule, consider that meals should be 450-650 calories and snacks less than 200 calories.
Saturated Fat: Try to choose foods that provide low numbers for saturated fat. Most women need no more than 15-17 grams sat fat per day. Full-fat cheese is the number one source in the US diet, followed by pizza so keep that in mind.
Sodium: You’ll quickly find out that the less processed a food, the lower the sodium will be. Watching sodium will automatically improve your diet as you’ll be eating more foods that are less processed or naturally fresh and sodium-free.