Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FDA Allows Food Industry to Bend Truth

FDA and USDA nutrition labeling guide: decision diagrams, checklists, and regulations
By Tracy A. Altman
Published by CRC Press, 1998
ISBN 1566767067, 9781566767064

I thought I would share the above little snippet about FDA labeling on low calorie products. I'm not sure if you can read it but to paraphrase it says that products can be labeled Zero Calories if they contain less than 5 calories per labeled serving size. So, that's why some sweeteners and diet soft drinks can say they are zero calorie per serving but technically if you have enough of it you may be adding a fair bit of extra calories.

There seems to be games that are played with some companies reducing their serving size just so they can claim their product has no calories. Does a litre of diet pop actually have no calories? No. It could have as many as 14 calories. But the serving size shown is for 355ml and therefore shows no calories.

There is nothing that grinds on me more than the manipulation of truth by a whole industry. There are definitely some products that seem to abuse this labeling policy more than others. I hope that I can identify them and bring their tactics into the spotlight where they deserve to be. Do you know of any? I'd like to hear it.

I'm happy to say that aside from the occasional Splenda packet or diet pop this labeling doesn't affect me greatly. It really bothers me that it could add as much as an extra few percent to someone's daily calorie consumption just due to manipulation of a labeling policy. Is it a pressing issue? Is major harm done? No. However, the public can handle the truth and they want the truth. Tell me that my diet pop has 4 calories per can instead of saying it's Calorie Free.

What other skeletons are in the Food Industries labeling closet?


  1. There are many labeling tricks used by the food industry. I have documented the most outrageous in my pages on Food Labels.

  2. Wow Tony. There is a tonne of label trickery on that link. Thanks for sharing... and for compiling all of those instances of injustice and food industry stupidity. You shine like a beacon of truth in these dark years of supposed Western "Civilization".

    I really like the fact that I prepare so much more of my meals from scratch with CRON. Thus avoiding the whole thing.

    Oh, and another instance by Health Canada: apparently any food that the majority of the manufacturing price was value added in Canada can be labeled as a Product of Canada. So, Chinese fish that came here cheaply and were processed with our more expensive labour that is 51% or more of the manufactured price can be labeled as a Product of Canada. Hmmm.... Not really liking that one either.

  3. Yeah- I've heard about the 0 calorie thing, and the 51% one before. The 0 calorie one doesn't bother me too much. No one's getting fat because 5 calories can be rounded down to 0.

    I think it's annoyingly insincere. I don't think it's the same way in Europe- I think they mark the 5 cals as 5 cals.

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