Labeling Lingo (Part 2): Free, Low, or Reduced?

In the last installment of Labeling Lingo, we discussed the difference between Nutrient Claims and Structure/Function Claims.  Before moving on, check that out here.

We are going to dive in a little deeper to the world of Nutrient Claims.

If you remember, Nutrient Claims must follow FDA guidelines.  Yay! That’s good right?! While these claims can help guide you to choosing healthier options, it’s important to always check the label!

Sometimes these Nutrient Claims can trick consumers into thinking a product is better for you than it actually is, so here’s the dirt:

Calories
Free
Low
Reduced/Less
Less than 5 calories per serving
40 calories or less per serving

Meals or Main dishes: 120 calories per 100 g
At least 25% fewer calories than the appropriate reference food

 

Total Fat
Free
Low
Reduced/Less
Less than 0.5 g per serving
3 g or less, and not more than 30% of total calories from fat
At least 25% less fat than the appropriate reference food

Tricky, tricky:
Remember these calorie-free butter sprays?

Definitely NOT calorie- or fat-free.  The serving size (one squirt) is so small that it sneaks past the FDA definition. If you analyzed the entire bottle, you would find a total of 900 calories and 90 grams of fat. Shocking, isn’t it?
Saturated Fat
Free
Low
Reduced/Less
Less than 0.5 g saturated fat and less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving
1 g or less and 15%  or less of calories from saturated fat
Meals or Main dishes: 1 g or less per 100 g and less than 10% from saturated fat
At least 25% less saturated fat than the appropriate reference food
This is where it gets really scary.  Notice the “less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving” part? Yikes! Not good!  No one needs to consume Trans Fat, EVER!  Ever heard of the phrase, “Hidden Trans Fat?” Well, this is exactly what they’re talking about.
Notice how they sneak in “Per Serving?” It doesn’t mean that there isn’t Trans Fat in the product.
Check the ingredients list for partially hydrogenated oil, shortening, or margarine.
Even “Reduced Fat” items may contain Trans Fat!  
Also, compare the Total Fat with the Saturated Fats.  For instance, if a package reads 2 grams of Saturated Fat, but 5 grams of Total Fat, some of those unaccounted-for grams may come from Trans Fat.
Be cautious when purchasing baked, processed or fried foods.
Cholesterol
Free
Low
Reduced/Less
Less than 2 mg per serving
20 mg or less
At least 25 % less cholesterol than the appropriate reference food
Sodium
Free
Low
Very Low
Reduced/Less
Less than 5 mg
140 mg or less
35 mg or less
At least 25% less sodium than the appropriate reference food

Sodium content can also get tricky.

Remember this guy:

“Reduced Sodium.” Great, yes?  Well, first let’s check out his brother, Hearty Tomato.

The sodium content has been reduced from 690 mg in Hearty Tomato in one cup to 480 mg in Tomato Parmesan.

But who really only has one little cup of soup?

Remember the New Dietary Guidelines?  Most Americans should aim to reduce their sodium intake to 1,500mg.

Add a few crackers on the side, and you’ve reached your sodium intake for the day!

If you really want to reduce your sodium intake, look for Low or Very Low Sodium on the label.

Sugars
Free
Low
Reduced/Less
Less than 0.5 g per serving
Not defined.  May not be used.
At least 25% less sugars than the appropriate reference food

Low sugar may not be used on labeling, but it’s possible to find “Lower Sugar” which is synonymous with Reduced or Less.

Also, be careful for “No Added Sugar” or “Unsweetened.” These terms mean that no sweeteners or sugars were added during the processing of the food item.  It does not mean that there is no sugar in that product.

Oh boy. That’s enough for the ole’ brain for tonight. Time to decompress.

And…

GOOD LUCK ON MATCH DAY SENIORS!!!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Labeling Lingo (Part 2): Free, Low, or Reduced?

  1. Steph,Your blog is awesome! Keep up the good work! You will go very far my friend! And thank you for the good luck on match day! You are headed for great things yourself. I'm so proud…even though it's all you! B

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s