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Thoughts on the new (proposed) food label?

I don't know, but in many ways it seems much harder to read (and understand) and contains a bit too much subjective info.

See it here: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages...


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  1. i think it's a terrific improvement. and as far as i can see, none of the information on it is "subjective."

    8 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I agree.... and i find it much easier to read. I especially like the bullets between the ingredients.
      Now if they would only go back to the old way of listing protein content on flour... but I digress.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Re: subjective.

        I don't like the label listing certain things as "high" when it's over 20%. High for whom? For what?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          i see it as a way of saying that it's a high level of a particular nutrient to be consuming from a single product/source.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            You're entitled to believe that, but it's subjective interpretation of macronutrient essentiality and desirability.

            1. re: mcf

              well if we want to get really technical about it, pretty much any guideline or suggestion regarding nutrient intake - including the standards/recommendations on which this is all based - is subjective :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                You're right if you mean it's true that there's no one size fits all diet for all people, no question. Such broad recommendations have no place in health practice. But certain diseases are being promoted by a certain lobby promoted pyramid, and some deficiency diseases can be avoided by at least minimal intakes of certain nutrients.

                1. re: mcf

                  actually, my response was meant for ipsedixit, but for some reason it latched on to your comment - that's been happening a lot lately. however, i happen to agree with you 100%!

      2. As a data junkie, jfood believes more is better.

        1. I like the idea of being told what percentage is whole grain. So many "whole wheat" breads list "wheat flour" (i.e. white flour) as a major ingredient, but you can never tell the percentage.

          But what I really wish they would do is disallow amounts of less than 1/2 gram from being labeled "0 grams," and reduce the 20% allowed fudge factor.

          1. I like it except for the part where it is no longer going to list the naturally occuring sugars.
            A gram of sugar is a gram of sugar and some people really need or want to know these things.

            14 Replies
            1. re: tastyvegas

              Yes, and fructose from fruit induces insulin resistance even more efficiently than table sugar, so it's not a moot point. I'd like to see a sugar breakdown by type.

              1. re: tastyvegas

                They never listed "naturally occuring sugars" in the ingredients label.

                What they've apparently changed is the section they list them. Now, "naturally occuring" sugars will be listed in total carbs, instead of under "added" sugar. Which is not a great idea in my opinion. As an example, raisins have a lot of sugar, but it would be weird to list "sugar" as an "ingredient" on a box of raisins. On the other hand, I do want to know how much sugar is in my raisins. In this case, they're removing information rather than adding it.

                Not to be cynical, but this sounds like a gimme to the food industry, since it will make some foods look less "label-scary" at the expense of removing information.

                Otherwise, I don't see any major benefits to the new design which seems visually cluttered to me but I imagine I'll get used it to. The red warnings are kind of funny - heaven only knows what they'll be saying next week...

                1. re: MikeG

                  That was my point; naturally occurring sugars have always been included in sugars, not just carbs. You're confusing ingredients with nutrient data, which is what I'm discussing. Lactose is currently included in sugars, as is fructose from fruit. CSPI is proposes just including those in overall carbs, separately listing only added sugars as sugars. This is important; lactose is a very fast acting sugar, as effective as OJ for reversing hypoglycemic episodes, for example. The lower fat the milk, the more glycemic.

                  The problem with CSPI and what they propose overall is that it's based upon their religious beliefs and ideology, not objective science.

                  1. re: mcf

                    Yes, well, their proposed label is certainly glaringly -- and to me somewhat annoyingly -- "prescriptive."

                    1. re: MikeG

                      Yes, exactly. I followed that rx for years over a decade ago, and it damaged my health and my family's severely til I stopped reading "expert" advice and began reading the biomedical literature myself.

                2. re: tastyvegas

                  Yes, that was what struck me immediately as well. I'd hope this gets changed in the "final draft" -- that, and there seems to be some dumbing-down (under the guise of making it easier for the common consumer to understand) which I'm kind of not a fan of.

                  I am a fan of the higher-visibility allergy information and the % information on the ingredients list. I always found the percentages useful when shown on European ingredients lists.

                  Generally, an improvement, though. I'd like to see Canada follow suit with similar changes.

                  1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                    CSPI doesn't want the consumer to understand, they just want them to do what they say.
                    And what they say has nothing to do with science OR public interest. Hiding the sugar while demonizing fat and protein/meat is dishonest junk science.

                    1. re: mcf

                      amen to that. i read their newsletter out of curiosity, but as a health and nutrition professional myself i'm not exactly going to jump on board with an organization that continually urges consumers to eat products made with sucralose. i'm not a conspiracy theorist my any means, but i've never been able to shake the suspicion that there's a serious chunk of cash from Ortho-McNeil hiding somewhere in their funding. oy, don't get me started...

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        cereal, soda/candy and drug corps fund the ADA; hence diabetics told that since sugar is no worse for you than grains, you should now stop avoiding sugar and make grains MOST of your calories. HUH?

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Artificial sweeteners aren't as poisonous as some folks believe, but they're not as benign as most folks think, either. The sweet taste sensation triggers insulin responses in some folks that contribute to obesity. Unless you have an insulin clamp test, you don't know if you're one of those folks. I use them in a mixture (more sweetening, less off tastes) when I bake, but each package lasts years around my house.

                          Interesting to note that CSPI regarded sucralose as not proven safe years ago, and recommended against the use of AS generally.

                          I eat real, whole non starch foods, organic mostly, grass fed meat and dairy almost exclusively.

                          1. re: mcf

                            i won't get to much into the artificial sweetener issue here, except to say that i don't believe sucralose is any safer than the others. i used to be sort of a voluntary guinea pig for my clients - before i'd recommend something to them i'd try it myself. when sucralose hit the market i was a bit skeptical about the safety, because even though the reports claimed it was fine, i've studied science for many years and my own interpretation of the chemical and molecular reactions involved in its manufacture made me uneasy. but so many people were asking me what i thought of it that i threw caution to the wind and tried it out. BIG mistake. i had really negative physiological reactions to it, including abdominal pain that was so severe i almost wound up in the ER on more than one occasion. so i'll skip the Splenda, thanks...and needless to say i don't encourage my clients to consume it (or anything else artificial, for that matter).

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              wow, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who gets stomach aches from sucralose! Most splenda fans look at me like I'm making it up or just psychosomatically inducing it in myself. But I can't stand the stuff, and it doesn't like me, either.

                              1. re: tastyvegas

                                I've only ever heard of that reaction from one other person, someone who can't tolerate any natural sugars, either, WOW, that's severe!

                                I just get a waxy mouth feel and icky taste from it unless I cut it 50% with another sweetener.

                                1. re: tastyvegas

                                  tastyvegas, i know several people who have the same reaction. it's evil stuff.

                    2. I really like the idea of listing percentage by weight of ingredient. The other changes I could take or leave, but I think that one would be a vast improvement.

                      1. You're right about subjectivity; the recommended macronutrient breakdown is a recipe for insulin resistance, obesity and childhood diabetes and is not consistent with good, peer reviewed objective nutritional and metabolic science. Note that 53 grams of carbs is not listed as"high!" A grain's a grain, for the most part, and sugars are sugars.

                        As a diabetic tightly controlled by diet, I need to know all the sugar content, not just added.
                        I also want everything, even a half gram, counted because they add up over the course of a day.

                        Fat and protein are the only essential macronutrients in human nutrition, yet fats are the only ones with red warnings. I'd like to see the breakdown of fats by quality: mononunsaturates and polyunsaturates, too, the way the USDA nutrient data is supplied.
                        Looks like the cereal, sugar and drug corps. got their lobbying dollar's worth. Again.

                        The protein per serving looks mighty low to not be considered as such.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mcf

                          FINALLY someone else other than me around here's read "Good Calories, Bad Calories"! I completely revamped the way I ate after reading that book and feel much better for it. Fat isn't the enemy except for crappy man-made fats. Now if I could get people to read Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarian Myth" ...

                          1. re: MandalayVA

                            I haven't read it, just snippets. But I know it's right because I've spent about ten years reading the same resarch Taubes has. And reversed all my diabetic nerve and kidney damage with a high fat, low carb diet. My results have converted three of my doctors so far. No meds.

                        2. Why are some of the items from the ingredients also listed as a percent, but not all? It doesn't have anything to do with the 20% cutoff...it looks totally random to me. Sugar-28%, cherries-3%, flour-?? Not a key ingredient?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bluemoon4515

                            I could be wrong, but I think if it follows the EU guidelines, then "key ingredient" is defined as not only ingredients over 20%, but also anything listed on the label/name of the product/description on the box. I imagine this label is from some kind of cherry chocolate cake.

                          2. I really like the fact that caffeine content is listed. It can be really hard to find out if a product contains it, and how much. For people (like me) who react strongly to caffeine, this is a big help.
                            Otherwise, the new label seems ok to me. As jfood said, the more info the better. I like that the info is there, whether I choose to use it or not for a particular item.

                            1. I don't like that they have removed the "Calories from Fat" information; it is referred to as "Unnecessary information". Sure I could do the arithmetic myself (g fat X 9 Cal/g) but I think it is useful to be able to quickly estimate the fraction of calories coming from fat.

                              1. Except for the removal of "calories from fat," I think it's a vast improvement and much more readable. Living in Germany this year, I really miss American food labeling. Here they are much less descriptive; most don't even include cholesterol numbers, which is very frustrating. Also, many labels tend to give nutrition info for 100g, not one portion. Too much calculation in the grocery store!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                  Funny you would say that. I find that I sorta kinda miss the food labels when I'm back in Germany, having lived in the US for the last 8 years.

                                  OTOH... less guilt in buying tasty things. Sometimes, I just don't want to know how many calories are in that piece of cheese, or the creme fraiche, or whatever.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    true. but at least it helps to know exactly how guilty to feel! or how many extra minutes to run to burn it off :)

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Another gripe...some labels don't even list sodium content here! I bought one of those Knorr packets of crappy noodles in mushroom sauce (sometimes you just gotta...it's like ramen). It doesn't list the sodium content...think I know why! ouch.

                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                        Christina, even if it's not listed on the package you can probably track down the info online. not that it really helps when you're standing in the store aisle pondering the purchase...

                                  2. I can't tell from this link (since it's just a picture): is this a Government proposed new food label, or just some outfit saying "WE THINK THIS IS BETTER" in which case it's fodder for discussion, but not much else.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      This is NOT from the government. This is from the group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI):

                                    2. I don't really have an opinion either way, both labels are fine by me, I'd go with the one that "the people" who are going to use it agree on.

                                      I do however like the addition of information about how much caffeine is in something. Not for the reason you may think though, I don't wish to avoid caffeine. However, sometimes when I feel a migraine coming on, I find that caffeine helps (a high enough dose also will help with a minor asthma attack when I've forgotten my inhaler). In these cases, I'll usually find the nearest "food library" (to steal a term from Metalocalypse) and hunt down the most efficient (concentrated) delivery system for caffeine.