NutritionLabel Key to Products Secrets

Nutrition labels key to products’ secrets

I really liked this article and thought my readers would enjoy it–good information and it really makes you think!

Karen Gram, Canwest News Service

Published: Thursday, July 24, 2008

In an age when every health professional you talk to reminds you to eat right, going grocery shopping sometimes feels as if a master’s degree is required — especially with all the marketing tricks that some manufacturers use to lure you to their product.

A jam product might say “simply fruit” on the front of the package, but on the nutrition label at the back, you discover that it contains more fruit syrup than actual fruit.

There are some helpful websites, including one called eBrandAid, which was founded by Atlanta-based author Kerry McLeod. The site identifies many “healthy food impostors,” which are packed with hidden preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Nutritionist Diana Steele talks about labels on products.View Larger Image View Larger Image

HEALTHY READING: Nutritionist Diana Steele talks about labels on products.

Steve Bosch, Vancouver Sun

Another good site is put together by the Washington D.C.-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest, which is now in its 37th year of educating and advocating for consumers on food issues. They call the impostors “food frauds.”

We asked registered dietitian Diana Steele to take us through a grocery store and teach us what we need to know to read labels and not get fooled by the marketing.

Steele says it’s easy to get overwhelmed. While there are detailed regulations governing food labels, some food producers have read the fine print and used loopholes to make their product look better than it really is.

“I think the important message is that your marketing claim or title of a food product isn’t necessarily going to determine whether or not that food is good for you,” she says.

Steele urges consumers to read and understand the nutritional information on the package.

EBrandAid’s founder Kerry McLeod says it’s crucial to read both the nutritional facts and the ingredient list to get an accurate picture of what you are about to eat.

But, even still, labels keep secrets. Here are some of them:

Q. When is whole wheat bread not necessarily whole wheat?

A. When it says it’s whole wheat. Sounds bizarre, but Health Canada regulations stipulate that products claiming to be 100-per-cent whole wheat don’t have to include the nutritious wheat germ. But a claim of whole grain does.

So for the best fibre, choose 100-per-cent whole grain. Even still, read the ingredient list because if the product says it is “made with whole grain” it might contain just a little whole grain mixed with white flour. The most used ingredient is at the top of the list.

Q. When does zero trans fat not mean zero trans fat?

A. When it has 0.2 grams of trans fat or less per serving. This is curious because Health Canada has also stated that there is no safe level of trans fats. A level of 0.2 may seem insignificant, but trans fats are contained in foods that people tend to gorge on. Foods like potato chips or cookies. So if you eat five servings, you will get one gram of trans fats and still think you aren’t getting any. Steele recommends less than two grams of trans fats per day.

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