Friday, October 10, 2014

Confused about food packaging?

Words that companies use on their packaging to describe their foods can be confusing sometimes. The FDA regulates the specific descriptive wording, but it can still be confusing to us- the consumers. For example, when you see a bag of jelly beans labeled "fat free". You wonder "did they change the formula?" Nope. The jelly beans are pretty much pure sugar- and always have been. The package isn't lying. There isn't any fat in them. However, they have NEVER contained fat. Just sugar. The change in packaging was just done to confuse us as consumers into thinking that those jelly beans are now a healthier food.

Most people looking to lose weight try to read labels and all the packaging labeled "light", "low-fat", "non-fat", or "reduced calorie" all sound very appealing. So how do we know which is right for us to choose?

Here is a list of FDA regulated food descriptions with the criteria that companies are required to meet to include these descriptions on their packaging.

Free: is often associated with fat free or sugar free. It meant that the product contains no amount of, or only trivial quantities of the said components. Less than 0.5 g per serving or less 5 calories per serving.

Low: can be used if the foods can be consumed regularly without causing excessive intakes of said component it is referring to.

Low Calorie: less than 40 calories per serving.

Low fat: less than 3 grams of fat per serving.

Low sodium: less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.

Light: This one has 3 possible meanings. 1.) It has 1/3 fewer calories or half the fat. 2.) the sodium content of a low calorie, low fat food has been reduced by 50%. 3.) the term describes the color, texture or other property as long as it explains it's meaning.

Reduced: the contents contain at least 25% less of the component than the original.

Lean: less than 10 grams fat, 4.5 grams or less saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per serving per 100 grams.

Extra lean: less than 5 grams fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat, less than 95 mg of cholesterol per serving.

Good Source: 10-19% of the daily value of said item.

High In: 20% or more of daily value of said item

Extra: at 10% more than the daily value in the referenced food.

Very low sodium: 35 mg or less soium

Sodium free: less than 5 mg per serving

High Fiber: 5g or more of fiber per serving

We all want to be healthy. I hope this helps a little when food shopping in reading food labels, so you can make the best decisions for you in your food purchases and not be tricked by the food companies packaging.