This is so important! Don’t let food companies trick you. Read this guide to help understand each label and its actual meaning.
Fat Free: Any food with .5 grams trans fat or less to claim “0 grams trans fat.” So, if you consume more than one of these a day you could be eating up to 2 grams of fat or higher depending on how much you eat. If you see the word hydrogenated
anywhere in the ingredients list, run!
Contents should be 95% organic or higher certified organic. 95% of the ingredients must be free of synthetic additives, and must not be processed using genetic engineering, irradiation, or industrial solvents. The other 5% can be foods that were processed with approved additives.
The FDA only recommends foods be labeled whole grain when all of the flour ingredients are entirely made from whole wheat or whole grain flours. However, the FDA doesn’t have a strong enforcement policy on this, and there’s virtually no penalty on foods that aren’t entirely from whole grains. Also keep in mind that this doesn’t mean all the ingredients are whole grain. This doesn’t mean a product is healthy.
Natural: This label tricks people everywhere. This is probably the most misleading. In fact, this label basically means absolutely nothing. The FDA still hasn’t set a standard for the term. Unlike USDA Organic labeling, the term “natural” is unregulated. Watch out!
Basically any company can stick this on their food packaging.
Low-Fat: Contains 3 grams of fat or less per serving. People automatically tend to assume this is a ticket to eat as much as they want of their favorite food, but this label means per serving. So if you eat 2 servings of a low fat food that contains 3 grams of fat per serving, that’s 6 grams of fat! Low fat items also tend to contain higher
calories than full-fat foods.
This means the ingredients have been verified by the Non-GMO project verification process. However, this doesn’t automatically mean the product is completely GMO free. The ingredients still risk being contaminated by GMO’s. This organization does do a good job at being truthful about this, however. For the most part, the item should be mainly GMO free.
Sugar Free: Although these don’t contain refined sugars (However, the FDA allows any food with 0.5 grams or less of sugar per serving to use this label), many times they are filled with artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. It comes as no surprise that sugar free doesn’t automatically mean low calorie.
Light: This means an item contains one third fewer calories or 50% less fat than the original food. It also means the sodium content has to be reduced by at least 50% or less than the original product. However, it can also refer to an ingredient listed on the package that is light in taste or color. Watch out!
Made With Real Fruit: This label virtually means absolutely nothing as well. Companies aren’t required to list the percentage of fruit that is actually in the product. Therefore I think its safe to say it probably means the item has almost zero fruit.
This term used to be unregulated, however the FDA finally made it actually have some meaning. Anything with this label means the ingredients have to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Although this label can still be misleading because it isn’t always 100% gluten free, it is known as being low enough so that it has no effect on people with Celiac disease. However, those with Celiac disease should still be careful.
Free Range: Free range doesn’t have an official definition, and all it requires is that the chickens have some access to outside. However, outside could be a mean a variety of things and most of the time its an extremely small area with little space to move.
and that’s why its extremely important for you to know what labels actually mean! Scary right?! Its crazy how much food companies are allowed to get away with. For more similar posts, check out my blog!