Marketing professionals spend a lot of time and money trying to make their products more appealing to customers. Some of these claims and buzzwords are catchy, and very believable. Yet many of these claims only cover up the truth. You’ve probably seen some of these marketing terms plastered on the food labels of your favorite products’ packaging. Now you can decipher what they really mean. Keep in mind, however, that just because it’s FDA-approved doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
FDA Nutrition Claim Definitions
LOW CALORIE: 40 Calories or less
LIGHT/LITE: One-third fewer calories or 50% less fat than the regular product
FAT FREE: Less than half a gram of fat
LOW FAT: 3 grams or less of fat
REDUCED FAT: 25% less fat than regular product
FEWER OR LESS CALORIES: At least 25% fewer calories than regular product
Manipulating Food Labels
There’s more to the label than meets the eye:
FACT: Packaged foods are packed with extra calories. This is because the actual weight of a packaged food item is usually 5% to 10% more than the label net weight. Sometimes it’s as much as 50% more. To calculate the actual calories, weigh it on a food scale. You might be surprised how much you’ve been adding to your diet without knowing it. That’s why a 200 calorie catchall helps make your daily calories eaten more accurate.
So, read your food labels, everyone! Educate yourself and advocate for yourself when it comes to packaged foods.