Food Labels and Other Confusions
When it comes to food labels, manufacturers are very good at finding the loopholes in labelling laws and requirements, and subsequently very good at pulling the wool over YOUR eyes. One such loophole is the manufacturer’s ability to claim a food is Low fat, Low Trans fat or Low calorie on the front of the packs, When, in fact, the product does indeed contain fat, trans fat, and/or calories.
It is essential that you check the ingredients carefully.
If the manufacturer reduces the serving size the ingredient they think you want to avoid will be so small that they can claim it to be Low in that particular ingredient.
When in fact a ‘normal’ portion will contain a significant amounts.
Deepening the Loophole with Unrealistic Serving Sizes
While .5g of fat or 5 calories may not seem like a big deal, remember that these values are “per serving”, and while an entire package, box, can, or bottle of a product may contain hundreds of calories and loads of fat, as long as they can divide that package into small enough servings.
I don’t know about you, but I get angry when I see food manufacturers outright LYING to consumers on their packaging.
Here are the top 3 to watch for…..
1. Cooking Sprays and Butter Sprays – Cooking sprays are labelled as fat-free but their first ingredient is oil, which is 100% fat. How in the world can this be? Well, the last time I looked at cooking spray the amount they recommend as a portion would be useless. You could use 10-15 servings without effort
Cooking sprays aren’t fat-free…they are nearly 100% fat. In my example above, a realistic serving actually contains around 5 grams of fat and 45 calories. A far cry from the 0 number reported on their nutrition facts.
Same goes for butter and baking liquids, which are fat in most cases. For example, one popular brand of butter spray contains over 800 calories and 90g of fat per bottle, yet it’s labelled as a lo-fat, lo-calorie product! Yeah, right!
The serving size? One spray. Let’s get real here…no one is using one spray, or five sprays, or 10 sprays. In fact, twenty-five sprays equals just one teaspoon, when the servings size for regular butter is 1 tablespoon. When you balance out the serving size to be the same as a serving of butter, you’re looking at 75 sprays to get the same amount.
2. Artificial sweeteners – Not only are artificial sweeteners bad news for you health, but they’re also a top violator of “calorie free” deceptive labelling practices. Many brands of artificial sweeteners use maltodextrin and/or dextrose (which is pure sugar) as fillers in each packet, and each packet can contain small amounts of sugar and calories and still be labelled as calorie free.
I’ve seen people use packets of this stuff in their coffee or on their cereal…hardly calorie free and even worse, maltodextrin and dextrose are two of the biggest insulin-spiking carbs around — THE reason for choosing artificial sweeteners over sugar in the first place!
3. Any food that contains “partially hydrogenated” oils in the ingredient list, period. You should have a zero-tolerance attitude toward trans fats. They are the most health-derailing nutrient known to man, and you should be consuming NONE.
If a product claims ” 0 grams of trans fat per serving”, especially if they specify “per serving”, they are almost always playing the serving size game and you’re very likely to see partially hydrogenated oils on the list of ingredients when you flip the package over. If so, avoid it like the plague.
GET USED TO LOOKING AT THE INGREDIENT LISTS AND PORTION SIZE