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food labels



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.

milk

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.


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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.

label

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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