Tag Archives: food labels

Do You Know What You Just Put in Your Mouth? Author Patrick Di Justo Tells Reddit the Truth about Processed Junk Food


Patrick Di Justo, author of “This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth” took to reddit last week to answer readers’ questions about the very same topic.

Di Justo wrote a column in everyone’s favorite science publication, Wired magazine, where he broke down the ingredients in common household products, explaining just what those unpronounceable ingredients really are, why they are used, and just where they come from.

“All my research is dedicated to pointing out what is in the food you eat and the products you use. I almost never make value judgments about these ingredients — the idea is that you now have all this information, you make your own decisions,” explained Di Justo to one reader. “I think the only thing I’ve ever told people to stay away from was heroin, because heroin is pure evil in powdered form. And high fructose corn syrup, which is not as immediately evil as heroin, but still bad for you.”

When Wired magazine got its own show on PBS, called Wired Science, host Chris Hardwick presented Di Justo’s articles as a special segment of the show. The very first food he broke down? Cool Whip.

Cool Whip

Before you dollop this unassuming, fluffy, sweet treat on your fruit salad, let’s find out exactly what’s in it:

First off, it’s bleeding you dry: water is Cool Whip’s main ingredient, since air can’t really be put on an ingredient list. Water and air make up forty-one cents per ounce, just over twice what it would cost to whip real cream yourself. (more…)

5 Things to Know About the New Food Labeling Laws


Late last week the Food and Drug Administration made a huge announcement that basically holds more businesses accountable for the calories in the food they choose to serve. The new food laws, which falls under the Affordable Care Act, will absolutely affect you; expect to know how many calories are in that tub of popcorn at the movie theater, for instance.

Let’s break down the most important changes you will notice next year.

1. All major businesses will need to display their calorie counts. 

Some big cities are already held to this standard, like New York City. But the FDA’s new laws will require any establishment that sells prepared food (and also has more than 20 locations) to display its food’s calorie information. A one-stop independent bakery will not be affected, but your local and booming coffee purveyor that’s become a chain will not be exempt.

2. Calories will be on the menu. 

Calorie content will appear on menus and menu boards in restaurants, though bakeries, coffee shops, pizza joints, movie theaters, and amusement parks will be affected, as well. The idea is to provide easy access to the caloric information of your food choices to help you realize exactly what you are ingesting. The FDA also hopes that it will inspire restaurants to make healthier food preparation choices. (more…)

Gluten-Free Foods are Officially Gluten Free; FDA Enforces Labeling Standards

gluten free

It seems everywhere you turn these days, there is a new addition to the gluten-free gang. Celebrities, the lady down the street, maybe your own cousin — they’ve all happily hopped onto the gluten-free bandwagon, without or without an actual intolerance. However, there’s a new member of the group that may surprise you.

The latest additions to the list of things that are gluten-free are in fact foods labeled with the term “gluten-free.” Starting this week, the term “gluten-free” is regulated, meaning it is no longer up to the various manufacturers to decide what that label actually means.

5 Reasons Why Most of Us Should Not Go Gluten Free

For those who suffer from celiac disease or other conditions that prevent them from digesting gluten, this comes as welcome news.


Food Labels Lead to Confusion, Waste

Open your fridge, and examine the labels on your food. No, not the nutrition labels, the ones that indicate if your food is still safe to eat. Based on the information you find, is your food still safe? Depending on which label your food carries, this may be a harder question than you think.


Many of us assume the three main labels (Sell by Date, Expiration Date, and Best if used by Date) mean the same thing. However, each of those three labels has a distinct meaning that may or may not tell you when you should throw out the food.


The Right Way to Read a Food Label: Don’t Overlook the Fine Print

Clients love to tell me about the new snack bar or cereal they found at the grocery store. They tell me how it’s all natural or full of whole grains. I hate bursting their bubble when I ask how much sugar it has.


In your quest to be a healthy and fit you need to be a vigilant food detective.   You can’t trust the health claims on the front of the box. You have to read the back of the box, the ingredient list in particular, to really understand what is (or isn’t) in the oatmeal or protein bar you’re about to buy. Unfortunately, it’s not easy deciphering food labels. Without sounding too much like a conspiracy theorist, I think they do it on purpose.

The marketing team believes if they highlight the words “natural”, “light”, or “reduced” on the label we, the consumer, won’t look any further than that. We will simply trust that the product is good for us, load up our carts and go on our merry way.

The problem is a lot of people do just that. This is where they often get into trouble. You have to read the label to get the real story of what’s going on. Even on products you buy regularly you need to check in every so often to make sure they haven’t changed anything without telling you. Do a quick scan of the products going in your cart and look for these 5 things:

  1. Serving Size
    Don’t be so sure that a bottle of juice or a small bag of granola is just one serving. More often than not what appears to be a single serving package of chips or beverage has at least two servings. You could take in double or triple the calories without really even noticing. (more…)

Chips Made With “Healthier” Ingredients May Not Be as Healthy as You Think

When the snack time munchies strike, you know that a handful of potato chips isn’t the way to go. Instead you reach for chips made out of quinoa, sweet potatoes, or veggies. But are they really a better option?

sweet potato chips

Unfortunately, just because a chip is made out of something traditionally considered healthy, it isn’t a guaranteed healthy snack choice. The process used to make chips, no matter what they’re made out of, can strip many of the foods’ natural health benefits.

When looking for the perfect crunchy snack, it’s important to pay close attention to what’s on the nutrition label and in the ingredients list. For example, our friends over at Shape Magazine found a chip made from quinoa (a normally fiber-rich food) that contained essentially no fiber per serving. However, the chips did have 9 grams of protein and just 12 grams of carbohydrates per 20-chip serving. (more…)

New Nutrition Label is Two Years Away! FDA Deputy Director Confirms Steps to Reform

Our news about the nutrition facts reform from the FDA has been spreading like wildfire! We dug deeper to find for you the timeline that nobody seems to be providing yet. After speaking at length with the FDA’s Deputy Director Siobhan DeLancey, here’s what to expect in the days (and weeks, and years…) to come regarding the new label update.

nutrition facts

STEP ONE: 90-day Public Commentary (Opens today! See below for how to place your comment)

The label reform is now open to a 90-day public commentary period where the FDA is expecting to hear from a variety of groups and individuals from nutritionists, consumers, and food industry groups.

STEP TWO: Review of commentary (duration unknown)

The FDA must then review and consider those comments to evaluate any possible changes to the reform. They were unable to give us an exact timeline as it is dependent on the number and breadth of the commends received.

STEP THREE: Two-year implementation after final rule

After the FDA has issued a final ruling, they are proposing a two-year implementation period for products to comply with new industry standards. “But we expect many companies will put the new label on their product earlier than that, as we saw when the original nutrition facts label requirement came out,” says DeLancey. (more…)

Finally! The Feds Create BS-Free Nutrition Label, Give Americans Reality Check

The White House and the Food and Drug Administration have announced their plan today to update the nutrition facts label on food packages, a move that is being heralded and praised by nutrition experts and enthusiasts alike.

new nutrition label

Proposed changes include:

  • Calories displayed more prominently. Congress and the FDA are pushing for a larger, bolded font for calories and all parts of the label that affect obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Serving Size. Have you ever noticed a bottle of soda actually contains 2.5 servings, while the average American drinks the whole thing in one sitting? Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert, thinks this means we are all in for a big reality check. The new label will change the serving size from what we should eat to what people actually consume.
  • Detailed sugar labeling. The improved labels will have a new line for “added sugars,” or sugars not occurring naturally and have been including only after chemical processing (think naturally-occurring lactose in yogurt vs. added aspartame in a Yoplait). What does Hartley have to say about that? “Finally.” (more…)

70 More Calories in Baked Cheetos Than Crunchy and More Junk Food Hiding Behind Health Halos

I’ve often joked that the only reason baked chips are listed as healthier than their traditional counterparts is because you get less product per bag. Apparently, my jokes weren’t too far from the truth.


We’ve discovered that Baked Cheetos in particular actually have 70 more calories than their crunchy counterparts. It’s an excellent example of how “positive” branding can make a consumer assume a product is healthy, even when it isn’t.

This is what’s known as a health halo. It’s the perception that one thing is healthy or has healthy qualities because something with similar qualities is healthy. Using the Cheetos example; we know baked foods are usually healthier than fried foods, so when consumers see the word “baked” on a label, they assume the product is better for them.

Health halos aren’t limited to Cheetos. You don’t have to search the grocery shelves too hard to find other foods getting more glory than they deserve. (more…)

Subway Ditches Toxic Chemical Found in Yoga Mats. Still Widely Used, Though

After a public petition to ban azodicarbonamide, a chemical also found in yoga mats and shoe rubber, Subway has officially agreed to remove the toxin from their sandwich breads. This substance has been banned across the globe, but it’s still allowed in the U.S. and found in almost every fast food chain baked goods including Starbucks, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, and Wendy’s.


Azodicarbonamide is known to induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers and consumers. It is intended as a dough conditioner, but when baked can create the known carcinogen urethane.