Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Calorie Counts on Food Labels OFF and Interesting Facts on Label Claims

Hello everyone,
I have been meaning to post this for about 6 months! We are all aware of this, but I thought it would be an interesting thing to bring 'back to light' given the summer is approaching and we are all trying to get bikini body ready. It is a great thing to remain cognisant about- especially those who are struggling with those last 5 lbs.  In other words, if it SEEMS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE....it probably is! I am not saying to become paranoid and obsessive- no disordered behaviour! Just to be aware! All things in moderation! Don't forget to keep portion sizes in check- and never cut out entire food groups or deprive yourself! We only live once!
Remember, if the calories seem off you can always do a quick tally (Carbs=4kcal/g Fat=9kcal/g Pro=4kcal/g).
I received this article from VitaCost's DAILY HEALTH REMINDER. I'll leave some really good links at the bottom! Enjoy!

Calorie Counts on Food Labeling Often Off

Restaurant, packaged foods often have more calories than stated, researchers say

(HealthDay News) -- Many reduced-calorie restaurant and packaged foods in the United States have more calories than indicated on their nutritional labeling, a new study reports.

Tufts University researchers analyzed 29 quick-serve and sit-down restaurant foods and found they contained an average of 18 percent more calories than the stated values. The team also checked 10 frozen meals bought from supermarkets and found they had an average of 8 percent more calories than what was printed on the label.

Three of the supermarket-purchased meals and seven restaurant foods contained up to twice their stated amount of calories.

An added complication was identified with some restaurant meals. Five restaurants provided side dishes at no extra cost, and the average amount of calories in the side dishes was greater than for the entrees they accompanied, the researchers reported.

The study appears in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

"These findings suggest that stated energy contents of reduced energy meals obtained from restaurants and supermarkets are not consistently accurate and, in this study, average more than measured values, especially when free side dishes were taken into account, which on average contained more energy than the entrees alone," wrote the researchers, led by Susan B. Roberts, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts' Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

They noted that a "positive energy balance of only 5 percent per day for an individual requiring 2,000 kcal/day could lead to a 10-pound weight gain in a single year."

Not only could this hamper people's attempts to control their weight, the researchers wrote, but it also could "reduce the potential benefit of recent policy initiatives to disseminate information on food energy content at the point of purchase."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers healthy eating tips.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Dietetic Association, news release, Jan. 5, 2010
This one explains HOW to add up labels and compare and uses a GREAT Whole Foods VS Trader Joe's Sunflower seed labels comparison, plus how to read claims and a wonderful example of how 100% Natural can be a lie (if it has an asterisk with PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED cotton seed oil etc- it is NOT natural. This is an artificial process that lends to cardiovascular disease). I highly recommend checking this link out:

Here are some other links:

This one is really good:

FDA Specifications for Health Claims and Descriptive Terms

The FDA provides guidelines about the claims and descriptions that
manufacturers may use in food labeling to promote their products[1]:
Claim Requirements that must be met before using the claim in food labeling

Fat-Free Less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, with no added fat or oil

Low fat 3 grams or less of fat per serving

Less fat 25% or less fat than the comparison food

Saturated Fat Free Less than 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 0.5 grams of trans-fatty acids per serving

Cholesterol-Free Less than 2 mg cholesterol per serving, and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving

Low Cholesterol 20 mg or less cholesterol per serving and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving

Reduced Calorie At least 25% fewer calories per serving than the comparison food

Low Calorie 40 calories or less per serving

Extra Lean Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per (100 gram) serving of meat, poultry or seafood

Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 g of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per (100 gram) serving of meat, poultry or seafood

Light (fat) 50% or less of the fat than in the comparison food (ex: 50% less fat than our regular cheese)

Light (calories) 1/3 fewer calories than the comparison food

High-Fiber 5 grams or more fiber per serving

Sugar-Free Less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving


or Salt-Free Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving

Low Sodium 140 mg or less per serving

Very Low Sodium 35 mg or less per serving

Healthy A food low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and contains at least 10% of the Daily Values for vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or fiber.

"High", "Rich in" or "Excellent Source" 20% or more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient per serving

"Less", "Fewer" or

"Reduced" At least 25% less of a given nutrient or calories than the comparison food

"Low", "Little", "Few", or "Low Source of" An amount that would allow frequent consumption of the food without exceeding the Daily Value for the nutrient - but can only make the claim as it applies to all similar foods

"Good Source Of", "More", or "Added" The food provides 10% more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient than the comparison


  1. Good stuff and all so true. I don't think it's mentioned in your list but "Calorie Free" as determined by the FDA means "less than 5 calories". Per serving, of course. This means something with 4 calories in a serving can be listed as "0 calories". A complete travesty, imo. Granted, 4 calories per serving vs. 0 isn't going to hurt, anyone...it's just the deception that's bothersome.

  2. Of course, you can't blame companies for trying to sabotage their way around these laws and regulations in whatever way they can! It's just part of business...quite horrible, but inevitable. That's why I don't even count calories....I just try to listen to my body, the most accurate and natural and stress-free calorie-counter! ;-)