Food Label Meanings
There is a lot more then the label tells.
A food that looks like another food but isn’t made of the same stuff is
an imitation, right? Not quite. It only has to be labeled as “imitation
if it has a lower amount of protein or some other essential nutrient
than the food it’s trying to look like.
How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label
Labels should tell you
Food is not just the sum of its nutrients. It is time to rethink nutrition
(how not to use)
Food Labeling Requirements
is a Pocket
that Tells You What's Really in the Food like
calories, and sugar and fat.
If it’s free of fat, or sugar, or
, it doesn’t mean that not one
trace of those things is to be found in it. The FDA evaluates certain
terms with reference to a typical portion size known as an RACC
(reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion). An RACC of
eggnog, for example, is ½ cup. For croutons, it’s 7 grams, and for
scrambled eggs, 100 grams. To be labeled “free” of calories, the food
must have less than 5 per RACC. For fat and sugar, less than .5 grams.
For sodium, less than 5 milligrams. Also, the food must somehow be
processed to be “free” of those things in order to get the simple “free”
label. You can’t have “fat free lettuce,” only “lettuce, a fat free
food.” Grocery Labels Explained
Low is also defined with respect to set portion sizes and varies with
whether it refers to calories, fat, or sodium. For fat it’s less than 3
grams. For calories, it’s less than 40, unless it’s a prepared meal, in
which case it’s 120 per 100 grams. Saturated fat and cholesterol have
specific “low” values as well.
Processed Food Dangers
Sometimes manufacturers want to make a relational claim about a food—not
just that it’s “low” in some substance, but lower than it usually is
(which may mean it doesn’t meet the standard for “low” at all).
Relational claims are evaluated with respect to a reference food. A
reference food should be the same type of food (chocolate ice cream
compared to other chocolate ice cream) though the numbers against which
the “reduced” claims are compared can be an average of the top three
brands. The “reduced” substance must be less than 25 percent of what it
is in the reference food.
Light (or lite) is also evaluated with respect to a reference food, and
a rather complicated set of conditions is taken into account for
different substances. For example, if a “light” product has more than
half of its calories from fat, the fat must be reduced by half per
reference serving amount. If less than half its calories come from fat,
it can be “light” if the calories per serving are reduced by 1/3.
Sometimes foods that meet “low” requirements can also be labeled as
“light.” “Lightly salted” should have 50 percent less sodium than a
Our food labels don’t only brag about low levels of the bad stuff, but
also about high levels of the good stuff. “High” (or “rich in”) means
that the food has 20 percent or more of the recommended daily value for
that nutrient per reference serving.
7. Good source
“Good source of” is a little lower than “high.” A food with this label
should have 10 to 19 percent of the recommended daily value.
Below “good source” is “more,” “fortified,” “enriched,” “added,”
“extra,” or “plus.” A food with 10 percent of the recommended daily
value can use one of these, but it only applies for vitamins, minerals,
protein, fiber, and potassium.
“Lean” applies to
or meats that have less than combined
specified levels of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol (10g, 4.5g, and
To qualify as “healthy,” a product must meet the “low” standard for fat
and saturated fat, another standard for sodium and cholesterol, and it
must have at least 10 percent of the recommended daily value for a range
What Does Organic Mean
After years soliciting suggestions and considering comments on the
question of what “Natural
should mean, no useful consensus could be reached, and the FDA decided to
forgo establishing an official definition. Though it hasn’t issued rules
for the use of “natural,” it endorses the general understanding that it
implies nothing artificial or synthetic has been added that would not
normally be expected to be added. Natural
are widely used terms in food labeling and marketing with a variety of
definitions, most of which are vague. The term is often assumed to imply
foods that are not processed and whose ingredients are all natural
products (in the chemist's sense of that term), thus conveying an appeal
to nature. But the lack of standards in most jurisdictions means that the
term assures nothing. In some countries, the term “natural” is defined and
enforced. In others, such as the United States, it is not enforced.
is existing in or produced by
. Existing in or
in conformity with nature or the observable world; neither supernatural
nor magical. Functioning or occurring in a normal way; lacking
abnormalities or deficiencies. In accordance with nature; relating to or
concerning nature. Free from artificiality.
is an abnormal
to food. The signs and symptoms may range from mild to
severe. They may include itchiness, swelling of the tongue, vomiting,
diarrhea, hives, trouble
, or low blood pressure. This typically occurs within minutes
to several hours of exposure. When the symptoms are severe, it is known as
anaphylaxis. Food intolerance and
are separate conditions.
substances added to
to preserve flavor or enhance its taste, appearance, or other
qualities. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example,
preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon,
preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as with wines. With the advent
of processed foods in the second half of the twentieth century, many more
additives have been introduced, of both natural and artificial origin.
Preserving What is the difference between Peak Quality and the
"Labels do not say that we have completely defined
something, it's more of a temporary marker until we have more
FDA Regulates 80%
of our Food, but it is easily corrupted and exploited.
Why nobody knows
what's really going into your food (youtube)
Generally Recognized as Safe (wiki)
Companies have added thousands of ingredients to foods with little to no
government oversight. That's thanks to a loophole in a decades-old law
that allows them to deem an additive to be "generally
recognized as safe" — or
GRAS — without the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's blessing, or
even its knowledge.
50 Secrets Food Manufacturers Don’t Tell You That Could Change the Way