Guys, Don’t Be Fooled by Food Labels
April 11, 2017
In one sense, food labels are meant to help protect us against our sugar-, sodium- and salt-cravings selves. They do an immense service to society that’s only rewarded by a healthy and happy life from shoppers.
But then again, one could see them for what they actually are: the work of manufacturers who write the levels of sugar, sodium, carbs, etc., to make their products look good—whether or not it’s actually accurate. Which is a great disservice to society.
NOTE: Before we start, it’s important to remember that not all food labels are meant to deceive you. Just some.
Which is why we’re here.
How should I be reading food labels?
According to the American Heart Association, there are five ways to successfully read nutrition labels in order to effectively get all you can from them:
1. Start with the serving info
2. Then go for the calorie count per serving
3. Limit certain nutrients
4. But still make sure you get enough
5. Pay attention to the % Daily Value
According to the report, learning how to read these labels, and deciphering what each item means, is imperative to making healthy food choices.
Wait… do manufacturers REALLY lie?
Um, yeah. Sorry.
Though maybe we shouldn’t say “lie” – perhaps they just bend the truth.
You see, a 2012 study from U.S. News notes that while the labels are required on certain foods – thanks to the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) – they’re unfortunately not always accurate.
Per the study:
“The law allows a pretty lax margin of error—up to 20 percent—for the stated value versus actual value of nutrients. In reality, that means a 100-calorie pack could, theoretically, contain up to 120 calories and still not be violating the law.”
Now, while 20 calories might not really sound like that big of a gap, well… it is.
What does that mean for my trip to Shop Rite?
Do your homework! Read articles, reports, blog posts (like this one right here right now!), and make sure you’re getting all the necessary knowledge needed in order to make certain both you and your child are ingesting nourishing and wholesome nutrients.
Also, try your hand at eating foods that don’t have nutrition labels—ones that are whole and unpackaged. They tend to be on the safer side (as less is thrown into them).
Oh, but please… don’t fall for that “all natural” thing.
All Natural isn’t good?!?
Sometimes it is. But sometimes it isn’t. A post from Everyday Health explains that while the government is currently seeking a process for labeling organic foods, the term “natural” is a little different. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration suggests “it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.”
And with that in mind, the organization has yet to develop a definition for “natural or its derivatives.”
Yet. But don’t worry. They’re trying.
(Find out more about that “natural” label at the FDA’s site.)
Don’t feel defeat. Change is coming…
The FDA has changes planned for nutrition labels (hooray!!) come 2018. Not only will those changes include a revamp on the design (which seems dated, no?), but the new labels will also contain “updated information about Nutrition Science.” Meaning things such as “added sugars” (in both grams and as % Daily Value) will be included in the new labels.
Furthermore, get ready to see more nutrients on the label (read: potassium and Vitamin D).
And finally, updated serving and package sizes!
Great, now I’m terrified to go grocery shopping until 2018
You shouldn’t be. Like everything in life, moderation is key. We’re not saying never eat those fatty, highly caloric meals. We’re just saying to be smart about it. Do your research, read those updates, and you’ll continue to be just fine.
Now go shopping. Seriously, that fridge is looking empty!
Disclaimer: Here at First Spoons™, we’re not fooled by food labels. Our knowledge of the industry is unmatched. We know the farms with which we work, we know the quality we’re getting and we use only the most nutritious organic products for each of our meals.
Additionally, when it comes to sugar, salt and preservatives, we’re steadfast in making sure we provide safe products, healthy products, and family-friendly products.
We created First Spoons™ to help parents who don’t know what they don’t know, but are willing to learn in order to provide their children the healthiest and happiest lives imaginable.