For years I thought the foods I bought were healthy. Why? Because I believed what the manufacturers stated on the products’ packaging. Well, I had a lot to learn! Don’t let food manufacturers deceive you on the value of the food you buy!
Let me explain… Unfortunately the food label laws give license to manufacturer’s products’ packaging that would lead consumers to believe they are getting something they really are not. The manufacturers know you want to eat healthy, so they make it appear as if your choice is healthy with how they label the packaging. I’ll demonstrate this by giving you a few examples of how misleading products’ packaging and food labels can be, and the best way to interpret the reality of what you are buying.
Here is an example of a cooking spray which claims that it contains zero grams of fat per serving, yet the product is 100 percent fat! How do they get away with this? Very good question… The government allows food manufacturers to adjust the serving size on their labels and then round down the number of fat grams. So for this example, the serving size is only 1/3 of a second, so it allows the manufacturer based on the guidelines to state there is no fat per serving. This is so incredibly misleading. Do you know how quick a 1/3 of a second is when trying to spray and cover a pan? Ridiculous!!
Manufacturers will also try to lead consumers to believe that the foods they are looking to buy are free of trans fat. Hydrogenated oil is directly tied to trans fat. With food labeling laws, manufacturers can say a food is free of trans fat (on a per-servings basis) if the amount of trans fats is 0.5 grams or less. So again, by reducing the serving size, and rounding down, you get the claim of no trans fat as with the example below.
Let’s switch to ground turkey. You see a label for lean ground turkey, and you believe you are making a smart, healthy choice, right? The packaging also states 15% fat or 85% fat free, but the packaging is referring to fat by weight in grams, not by calories. A gram of fat equals nine calories, and a gram of protein and carbohydrates equals only four. So if you read the label below, you will see that four ounces of this turkey has 20 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat! You will also see that each 4 ounce serving has 220 calories, 150 of which come from fat. If you do the math it’s 150 / 220 = 0.68 or 68% fat!
The following is an example of a better choice of turkey. This is only white breast meat, and you’d be eating 0.5 grams of fat per 4 ounce serving, and only 4% of the total calories from fat; 5 / 120 = 0.04 or 4%. This is a much better choice!
So what this all means is that you shouldn’t believe the manufacturer’s products’ packaging, but instead read the label and know how to decipher it. It may seem complicated at first, but you will get the hang of it, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll already know which products are good choices for you and your family. Two of the items on the food label I look at first are ‘calories per serving size’ and ‘calories from fat’, and then I do a straight division.
Foods that I always thought were good for me and my family was actually horrible! It was very frustrating, and more importantly disappointing that food manufacturers can get away with this.
I’m a strong believer now in reading EVERY label of the foods I am going to buy. I now have a list of foods that I’ve already evaluated and have become part of my every week grocery list (it does get easier). Now it’s just when I am looking at something new that I dive in to the label to determine the real value, not the propaganda on the packaging (and I bring my calculator).
- Jocelyn -