Monthly Archives: July 2011
Nutrient content claims are (thankfully) fairly cut and dried. These claims are really more like nutrition descriptions and include terms such as light, free, reduced in, and so forth. The FDA has set specific guidelines regarding the meaning of these terms, so they can be useful if you understand the definition of the term.
To complicate matters even more, manufacturers are getting around the entire issue by using structure/function claims. Structure/function claims draw attention to the relationship between a food or food substance and structures or functions of the human body.
Now youâ€™re entering the gray area of health claims on the food label. Qualified health claims are categorized as such because they do not meet the requirements for significant scientific agreement as set forth by the FDA. Manufacturers must petition the FDA to begin using qualified health claims on labels, and when the claims do appear on packaging, a qualifying statement (such as â€œsupportive but not conclusive evidence shows that_____â€) must be included.
Health claims are statements on packages that describe the relationship between a nutrient and a disease or health-related condition. This particular area of the food label has gone through some major changes in the last several years because consumers are clamoring for more information about the foods they eat and how those foods might be contributing to their health and well being.
A list of ingredients appears on almost all food products and can be an important source of information for cultural, allergy, and general health reasons. The ingredients are listed in decreasing order by weight, so the first ingredients are present in much higher amounts than the last ingredients. In general, look for products with shorter ingredient lists. Are there healthy foods out there with lots of ingredients? Sure, but as a rule, the longer the list, the more processed the food.
Now youâ€™re moving on to specific nutrients. Total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates (fiber and sugar), protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron are the nutrients included on most labels. Some may also include monoand polyunsaturated fats and fortified vitamins and minerals. Information about these nutrients can appear in one or both of the following forms:
This line follows the serving size information and tells you how many calories each serving provides and how many of those calories come from fat. The calories from fat are calculated by multiplying the total grams of fat per serving by nine (because each gram of fat contains nine calories):