Monday, March 21, 2011

It says What???

    Well, now you know how to read the label on the box, but there has to be an easier way to choose between all those options... right?  Well, yes and no...  There are key words and phrases on boxes that may make  them seem more desirable, and they may be... BUT these key words really help you narrow down your options.  Then you'll have to take a look at the label.  Don't worry though, you are now equipped with the info you need to conquer the label, and in just a few minutes, navigating the box will be a breeze.
    Many foods are advertised as low-fat, calorie-free, low-sodium, no sugar added...the list is endless. What's the difference between the USDA organic symbol and a product that says organic and what exactly is natural.
     Here it is folks, Nutritional Jargon 101.

ORGANIC - You probably hear this word a lot, but what exactly does it mean?  Organic foods do not involve pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms, and they are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.
     The USDA’s “organic” symbol indicates that the food was raised using organic farming procedures.
     Although this label says "organic", the product is only 95% organic  unless it reads 100% organic. If a product is less than 95% organic, it will not contain the USDA symbol. The USDA does not claim that "organic" food is safer or more nutritious for you than it's non-organic counterparts.
     My opinion is that items with no pesticides or chemicals are better.  It is very costly for a farm to become a certified organic facility.  So, I am very happy with a chemical free product that is not certified if it comes from a local vendor.  Small and local is almost always synonomous with "Organic Style Farming". 

NATURAL - the product was made without artificial ingredients or colorings and with minimal processing.  These products are usually superior in nutritional values.

Fat- (the Daily Value of fat consumption is 65g or less)

*Fat Free - Less than 0.5g of fat per serving

*Low Fat: 3g or less per serving or 3g per 100g for a meal or main dish and 30% of total calories (or less)

*Reduced Fat - 25% less fat than a comparable food
*Light/Lite - 50% less fat or one-third fewer calories than the regular product

*Lean - Less than 10g of fat, 4.5g of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per 100g of meat, poultry or seafood

*Extra Lean- Less than 5g of fat, 2g of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per serving and per 100g of meat, poultry or seafood

CHOLESTEROL - (the Daily Value of cholesterol consumption is 300mg or less)

*Low Cholesterol - 20mg or less per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving

*Cholesterol Free - Less than 2mg per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving

*Less Cholesterol - 25% or less than the food it is being compared to, and 2g or less saturated fat per serving

SODIUM - (the Daily Value of sodium consumption is 2400 mg or less)

*Salt free - Less than 5 mg sodium per serving.

*Sodium free - Less than 5 mg sodium per serving.

*No Salt added - No salt added during processing (does not necessarily mean sodium free)

*Very Low Sodium - 35 mg or less sodium per serving.

*Low Sodium - 140 mg or less per serving.

*Light in Sodium or lightly salted - 50% less sodium compared with a standard serving size of the traditional food. Restricted to foods with more than 40 calories per serving or more than 3 grams of fat per serving.

*Less Sodium or Reduced Sodium - at least 25% less sodium compared with a standard serving size of the traditional food.

CALORIES - (the Daily Value of calorie consumption is 2,000 or less)

*Calorie Free, Zero Calories, No Calories, Without Calories, Trivial Source of Calories, Negligible Source of Calories- fewer than 5 calories per serving.

*Low in Calories, Few Calories, Contains a Small Amount of Calories, Low Source of Calories - less than 40 calories per serving.

*Reduced Calories, Fewer Calories - 25% fewer calories than the original product (original product may not be "low calorie")

SUGAR - (the Daily Value of sugar consumption is 40g or less)

*Sugar Free, Zero Sugar, No Sugar, Without Sugar, Trivial Source of Sugar, Negligible Source of Sugar - less than 0.5g of sugar per serving.

*Reduced Sugar, Less Sugar - at least 25% less sugar than the original item.

*No Sugar Added, Without Added Sugar - no sugar or ingredients containing sugar were added during processing.

   In general, if a product has any nutritional value drastically reduced or removed, that component is replaced with a chemical product.  If you are looking for a healthier product, your best solution is to make it from scratch!

    Happy box hunting,
Chef Heather

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