Decoding Nutrition Claims

Have you ever wondered what nutrition claims on food packages actually mean? There are many different nutrition claims made on food packages, everything from low-fat to high fiber, but what does “low-fat” or “high fiber” actually mean? Are there standards that are set in order for a company to label their food product as “low-fat” or “high fiber”? The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets strict guidelines that companies must follow in order to make a health claim on food products. The list below contains some of the most commonly seen nutrition claims on food products. Use this the next time you go to the grocery store to shop smart.

  1. Low Calorie: Less than 40 calories per serving.
  2. Low Cholesterol: Less than 20 mg of cholesterol and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving.
  3. Reduced: Contains 25% less of the specified nutrient or calories than the regular product.
  4. Good Source of: Provides at least 10% of the daily value of a particular vitamin or nutrient per serving.
  5. Calorie Free: Less than 5 calories per serving.
  6. Fat Free or Sugar Free: Less than ½ g of fat or sugar per serving.
  7. Low Sodium: Less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
  8. High In: Contains 20% or more of the daily value of the specified nutrient per serving.
  9. High Fiber: Contains 5 g of fiber or more per serving.
  10. Light or Lite: Calories are reduced by at least 1/3 per serving less than the regular item.

The FDA also has set strict guidelines for nutrition claims and connections drawn to diseases on food packages. For example, health claims could include the relationship between calcium and osteoporosis, fat and heart disease, or sodium and high blood pressure. Be sure to keep these guidelines in mind the next time you grocery shop!

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