Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Decifering Food Labels (Part 1)

Food Stores are brimming with products that make all sorts of important sounding claims.  But how do you interpret what the claims stand for?  To help you navigate the aisles, I've compiled a list of the most common food labelling terms and defined what they really mean!

CHOLESTEROL-FREE - Product contains less than 2mg of cholesterol and is low in saturated fat.  However, the product may not necessarily be low in total fat.

FREE - The word "free" on the label means that the associated ingredient or nutrient is not present at all or is present in amounts considered nutritionally insignificant.

FREE RANGE - Hens are raised free from cages and are allowed some access to the outside.

FREE RUN - Hens are raised free from cages and are kept entirely indoors on a barn floor.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED - The product has been changed by way of intentional gene manipulation.

KOSHER - Describes food and practices that are specifically permitted by Jewish dietary law.

LIGHT - "Light" may refer to nutrition or to aesthetics.  When referring to nutrition, light is allowed for foods that are reduced in fat or reduced in calories.  With respect to colour, taste or texture, an explanation of what makes the food light is required on the label.

LOW FAT - Must contain less than 3g of fat per serving.

LOW IN SATURATED FAT - Each serving must contain less than 2g of saturated fat and trans fat combined.

"So my doctor told me to watch what I'm eating - to read food labels. I'm in the store reading the Fig Newtons label: I've always liked Fig Newtons. I'm reading the label to make sure everything's fine: fat content. I looked at the serving size; two cookies. Who eats two cookies? I eat Fig Newtons by the sleeve: two sleeves is a serving size. I open them both and eat them like a tree chipper; Fig Newton shavings coming off the side." - Comedian Brian Regan (click his name to watch this)

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