Food Label Meanings
There is a lot more
is a food that looks like another food but isn’t made of the same stuff.
A food only has to be labeled as
if it has a lower amount of protein or some other essential nutrient
than the food it’s trying to look like. Natural
How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label
Labels should tell you
- What Labels don't tell you
Food is not just the sum of its nutrients. It is time to rethink nutrition
Food Labeling Requirements
is a pocket
you what's really in the food like
calories, and sugar and fat.
If it’s free of fat, or sugar, or
, it doesn’t mean that not one
trace of those things is to be found in it. The FDA evaluates certain
terms with reference to a typical portion size known as an RACC
(reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion). An RACC of
eggnog, for example, is ½ cup. For croutons, it’s 7 grams, and for
scrambled eggs, 100 grams. To be labeled “free” of calories, the food
must have less than 5 per RACC. For fat and sugar, less than .5 grams.
For sodium, less than 5 milligrams. Also, the food must somehow be
processed to be “free” of those things in order to get the simple “free”
label. You can’t have “fat free lettuce,” only “lettuce, a fat free
food.” Grocery Labels Explained
Low is also defined with respect to set portion sizes and varies with
whether it refers to calories, fat, or sodium. For fat it’s less than 3
grams. For calories, it’s less than 40, unless it’s a prepared meal, in
which case it’s 120 per 100 grams. Saturated fat and cholesterol have
specific “low” values as well. Processed Food Dangers
Sometimes manufacturers want to make a relational claim about a food—not
just that it’s “low” in some substance, but lower than it usually is
(which may mean it doesn’t meet the standard for “low” at all).
Relational claims are evaluated with respect to a reference food. A
reference food should be the same type of food (chocolate ice cream
compared to other chocolate ice cream) though the numbers against which
the “reduced” claims are compared can be an average of the top three
brands. The “reduced” substance must be less than 25 percent of what it
is in the reference food.
Light (or lite) is also evaluated with respect to a reference food, and
a rather complicated set of conditions is taken into account for
different substances. For example, if a “light” product has more than
half of its calories from fat, the fat must be reduced by half per
reference serving amount. If less than half its calories come from fat,
it can be “light” if the calories per serving are reduced by 1/3.
Sometimes foods that meet “low” requirements can also be labeled as
“light.” “Lightly salted” should have 50 percent less sodium than a
Our food labels don’t only brag about low levels of the bad stuff, but
also about high levels of the good stuff. “High” (or “rich in”) means
that the food has 20 percent or more of the recommended daily value for
that nutrient per reference serving.
7. Good source.
“Good source of” is a little lower than “high.” A food with this label
should have 10 to 19 percent of the recommended daily value.
Below “good source” is “more,” “fortified,” “enriched,” “added,”
“extra,” or “plus.” A food with 10 percent of the recommended daily
value can use one of these, but it only applies for vitamins, minerals,
protein, fiber, and potassium.
“Lean” applies to
or meats that have less than combined
specified levels of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol (10g, 4.5g, and
To qualify as “healthy,” a product must meet the “low” standard for fat
and saturated fat, another standard for sodium and cholesterol, and it
must have at least 10 percent of the recommended daily value for a range of nutrients.
Implies that the
product or process has nothing
. Nothing has been added that would not
normally be expected to be added. A natural process similar to
that causes no environmental damage.
: The word
fraudulently misused and not be representative of the
the actual costs
or the negative
What Does Organic Mean
are widely used terms in food labeling and marketing with a variety of
definitions, most of which are
. The term is often
foods that are not processed
and whose ingredients are all natural
products (in the chemist's sense of that term), thus conveying an appeal
to nature. But the lack of standards
in most jurisdictions means that the
term assures nothing. In some countries, the term “natural” is defined and
enforced. In others, such as the United States, it is not enforced.
Natural does not automatically imply that
something is safe
existing in nature
or produced by
nature naturally on its own
. Natural is something that is not
, and neither
. Something that can be
in the world that
happens naturally or is caused by things that can be explained to a
certain degree. Things in life that seem to be functioning or occurring in
a normal way and are lacking abnormalities or deficiencies that would go
against an accordance with nature.
may vary when the
not known or debated
is something happening in a normal way or
is usually expected according to the
rules of nature
according to the laws of physics
happening naturally without artificial help or as the result of
food products for financial gain
with the intent of deceiving the consumer regarding
what is actually in
. The United States
reports that these
acts of fraud
have increased by 60 percent over the last year alone. Food
Food Fraud Database
is when seafood species can be mislabeled in misleading
ways. Selling low quality fish that is labeled as being a high quality
- Natural Selection
is an important factor in
your diet. You should compare the amount of that food you normally eat to
the serving size listed on the label. Eating large servings or portions
can lead to weight gain. The larger your portions are, the more calories
How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label
Expired Food - Expiration Dates
What is the difference between Peak Quality
- Food SafetyBest By Date
refers to the date recommended that you use the product by for best
physical and/or sensory quality. It is not an expiration date.
Sell By Date
on a product is the items expiration date, the end of its shelf life at
the store. Although the food product may be used and enjoyed past this
date, it is not recommended to purchase a product if the Sell By date has
past. This date is not as common as a best-by date.
is a previously determined date after which something
should no longer be used, either by operation of law or by exceeding the
anticipated shelf life for perishable goods. Expiration dates are applied
to selected food products and to some other manufactured products like
infant car seats where the age of the product may impact its safe use. The
dates solely indicate freshness, and are used by manufacturers to convey
when the product is at its peak. That means the food does not expire in
the sense of becoming inedible. For un-refrigerated foods, there may be no
difference in taste or quality, and expired foods won't necessarily make people sick.
- Food Chemistry
Two types of product dating may be shown on a product label. "Open Dating" is a calendar date applied to a
food product by the manufacturer or retailer. The calendar date provides
consumers with information on the estimated period of time for which the
product will be of best quality and to help the store determine how long
to display the product for sale. “Closed Dating” is a code that consists
of a series of letters and/or numbers applied by manufacturers to identify the date and time of production.
"Labels do not say that we have completely defined
something, it's more of a temporary marker until we have more information."
FDA Regulates 80% of our Food, but it is easily corrupted and exploited.
Why nobody knows
what's really going into your Food
Generally Recognized as Safe
is a designation that a
chemical or substance
added to food is considered safe by
, and so is
exempted from the usual Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) food
additive tolerance requirements. The concept of food additives being
"generally recognized as safe" was first described in the Food Additives
Amendment of 1958, and all additives introduced after this time had to be
evaluated by new standards. -
Companies have added thousands of ingredients
to foods with little to no
government oversight. That's thanks to a loophole in a decades-old law
that allows them to deem an additive to be "generally
recognized as safe
" — or
— without the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's blessing, or even its knowledge.
50 Secrets Food Manufacturers Don’t Tell You That Could Change the Way You Eat