Label savvy: New product health claims and labeling requirements

New Food Labeling Requirements • In an attempt to combat heart disease, the FDA will require that all food product information includes the amount of Trans Fatty Acids. Although the ruling becomes effective in January 2006, Frito-lay (Doritos, Tostitos, and Cheetos) has already removed Trans Fatty Acids from its snack foods. (Interestingly sales improved by 26% almost immediately, but that’s another story.) What does this mean to you? Although these snack items may contain less artery-clogging fat, the amount of salt, calories, and fat grams remains the same. Simply put, theses snacks are nutritionally devoid, just a little less dangerous now. • Next year you will start to notice food packaging listing nutrition information for a “single serving” and information for the contents of the “entire package”. What does this mean to you? Next time you finish off a four serving bag of Pirates Booty, you’ll know exactly what you did, no more number fudging. • Recently, the Federal Trade Commission launched a nationwide law enforcement initiative to expose companies promoting false claims for their weight-loss products. What does this mean to you? The lure of quick-fixes and magic weight loss devices has finally seen its last days. New Health Claims • Olive oil and walnuts: Because of the monosaturated fat content in olive oil and walnuts, products containing significant amounts of these ingredients may claim that they help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. What does this mean to you? Olive oil and walnuts have not changed. Olive oil is a healthful option for cooking and for salad dressings when used moderately and substituting olive oil for other oils is a good idea. But, once again, the calories and fat content remain the same. Do not use this claim as a reason to smother your whole grain bread or grilled vegetables in oil, it won’t do your heart any good, I promise. And, in case you didn’t know • Sugar alcohols are sugar substitutes derived from plant products like fruits and berries. They are low-calorie, slow-digesting substances commonly found in "sugar-free" products such as gum, candies, soda, and many modified “low-carb” foods. What does this mean to you? A stomach ache! Because sugar alcohols are slow to digest, they often cause stomach distress, causing gas and cramping. Some people are more sensitive to this than others, but I recommend that you limit your consumption as much as possible.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.