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Translation Guide for Label Claims

 
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couponqueen
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:03 pm    Post subject: Translation Guide for Label Claims Reply with quote

Who can make sense of today's food labels? Everything says "more free," "low fat," "fewer calories," "won't cause tooth decay," etc. How many of these claims are for real? And, how can you tell? One of the most confusing labeling laws surrounds the word "free." The implication is that when coupled with fat, sugar, calories or sodium, free means "lack of." You would think so, but not true. According to the FDA, fat- or sugar-free means less than 0.5 grams per serving; sodium-free and calorie-free mean less than 5 grams. Confusing, right? So... I've compiled a primer of FDA definitions to help you translate the language of the supermarket:

Cholesterol free
Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving.

Extra lean
Less than 5 grams of fat and less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams cholesterol per serving (100 grams).

Fresh
The word can be used only for foods that are raw, have never been frozen or heated, and contain no preservatives. Irradiation at low levels is allowed.

Good source
Means that one serving contains 10 percent to 19 percent of the Daily Value for a nutrient.

Healthy
Healthy can only be used on a label if the food is low in fat and in saturated fat and a serving does not contain more than 480 milligrams of sodium or more than 60 milligrams of cholesterol. But buyer beware, that definition only applies to healthy as a claim -- not when used as part of the brand name, as in Healthy Choice, Healthy Request or Good Health.

High
High can be used if a food contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient. An example is breakfast cereal that proclaims, "High in vitamin C." This cereal must have at least 20 percent more vitamin C than the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C set by the National Academy of Sciences.

Lean
Less than 10 grams fat and 4.5 grams (or less) saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams cholesterol per serving (100 grams).

Lite or light
The most flagrantly misused term of them all. Can mean one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the referenced food; or the sodium content of an already low-fat, low-calorie food has been reduced by 50 percent; or the food is lighter in color or texture (as long as there is information on the label qualifying what light means).

Low calorie
Low-calorie foods must have 40 calories or less per serving.

Low cholesterol
Twenty milligrams or less and 2 grams or less saturated fat.

Low fat
Less than 3 grams of fat per serving.

Low saturated fat
One gram or less of fat per serving and not more than 15 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids.

More
A serving of an unaltered or altered food contains at least 10 percent more of the Daily Value of a nutrient than the referenced food. This term is used in comparisons on packages and in advertising.

No added sugar or no sugar added
This does in fact mean that no sugars were added in processing or packing. It doesn't mean sugar free.

Reduced calorie
At least 25 percent fewer calories per serving than the referenced food.

Reduced (or less) cholesterol
At least 25 percent less cholesterol per serving than the food it is being compared to and 2 grams or less saturated fat.

Reduced (or less) fat
At least 25 percent less fat per serving than the food that it is being compared to.

Sugar free
This is defined as less than 0.5 grams sugar per serving. Remember, most claims fall into these categories: free, low, reduced or light. The nutritional labels are there to help us -- and they do. But we can't blindly rely on on-pack claims. We have a responsibility to read that ingredient listing and have a basic understanding of these terms.
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