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Feb 26, 2014 10:04 PM

FDA Overhauls Nutritional Labels

In case the old format didn't catch your attention enough .....

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  1. The CNN article is in error where it states: "Chemically, added sugar is the same, ...." There are a few different sugars which can be found in food. The worst (in the Dr. Luskin theory) is fructose. "Added sugar" is typically either sucrose (one-half fructose) or HFCS (approximately one-half fructose). The sugar in milk is lactose, which does not contain fructose.

      proposed changes in labels
      - make the calorie count more visible
      - 'added sugars' category
      - remove 'calories from fat'
      - %dv on the left
      - add potassium and D
      - changes in serving size calculation
      Proposed changes in 'serving size'

      - serving size will be based on recent surveys rather than ones from the 1970s

      - package size will be the 'serving size' if the item is packaged (and normally consumed) as a single serving.

      7 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        Reminds me of an old Guindon cartoon. A dumpy shlub at the kitchen table, reading the label of a frozen food package the size of a Lipton dry onion soup box: "Serves 4".

        I just baked with TJ's frozen puff pastry, which comes in 8" square sheets. The package directions call for cutting the sheet into four 4x4 squares, but the nutrition labeling says a serving is a sixth of a sheet. This sort of thing is very common, and absurd. Glad they are getting real.

        1. re: greygarious

          It's one thing to say 'serving size = i sausage link', or '1 muffin' - where the product naturally divides into units. In the case of puff pastry sheets 'serving size' is less well defined. That recipe is only a suggestion. Some puff pastry recipes call for rolling the dough out to a specified size, and then cutting it. Or you could cut the sheets in half, bake larger pastry and cut that into servings. This puff pastry dough is a raw material, that can divided in many different ways, and used for everything from 'cheese sticks' to pot pie crust to fancy desserts.

          If the dough was scored for specific servings it would be different. Crescent dough triangles, biscuits in the tube, puff pastry shells.

          is a recipe that uses 1 puff pastry sheet to wrap an 8oz brie. Is 6 servings realistic for this? Depends on where it fits in the meal. I'd probably cut it into 8 pieces, and serve it as an appetizer.

          Realistic serving sizes matters more when dealing with ready to eat items and snacks.

        2. re: paulj

          It makes sense that the "serving size" should correspond when an item is obviously intended as a single serving (e.g. A small chicken pot pie), but more generally it seems to me that there is an inherent problem because it is not an objective measure. If 12, 16, and 20 oz. beverages are all "single serving," how many servings are in a one liter bottle? People will divide it however they please. I divide a 12 oz. bottle. It would be more useful to me to have a standard indication of Cal/oz or Cal/c for all beverages without referring to servings.

          1. re: GH1618

            You are smart enough to do a bit of math.

            1. re: paulj

              You know, you'd think so. It should be easy right? But here's my dilemma: serving sizes for bags, cans and jars for things used in recipes.

              For instance, I just made a batch of soup using a tetra pack of crushed tomatoes. A serving size is 1/4 cup. The pack has "about 12 servings." I find this maddening. Cans, bags of veggies and jars are often sold by weight, yet nutrition information is by volume.

              Like NV Jims I'd like a breakout of the whole container as well as serving size.

              1. re: MplsM ary

                I don't see why you would even need serving size when making a batch of soup. My recipe for soup would be for a cup of this, two cups of that, so many potatoes or whatever, to fit a particular pot. I have no idea how many "servings" are indicated for each component.

                The finished recipe might say "serves six" or something, but even that doesn't mean much.

                1. re: GH1618

                  Figuring the nutrient content of the resulting pot is what I am trying to do. I can then divide as needed.

        3. It would make more sense to label to the full size of the container. A lot of things are going 'under the radar' as the number of servings in the container can divide the nutrient to less than a half gram which is then rounded to 0...

          1 Reply
          1. re: NVJims

            Even under the existing rules, manufacturers cannot choose smaller serving sizes just to make certain numbers disappear.

            One serving of Worcestershire Sauce is 5g (1 tsp). Protein and fats round down to 0g, carbs/sugars to 1g. For something like this the grams of the various macronutrients doesn't matter. Sodium is in mg.

          2. An adjustment to serving sizes is way over due at this point- i recently saw a serving size of 1/2 of a modest sized muffin (!?), 1.3 servings in a bottle of juice, and 1/2 of a cookie (what?!? It is a generous sized cookie but seriously??)

            However, the bigger issue is that we should be eating fewer and fewer foods that come with a label at all-although there was one on my box of raspberries the other day. (Whoah- 9g fiber per serving!)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Ttrockwood

              My wife and I usually split a muffin. This just confirms that "serving size" is a useless measure because it is completely subjective.

              1. re: GH1618

                I don't think the intent of having a serving size useless. It is not a suggestion of how much to eat, just a way to calculate. It is far better to calculate by an arbitrary "serving size" than to state something like weight. I suppose they could call it something else ( maybe a "portion" ) or just state that X amount equals X calories, etc.

                Unfortunately, it has turned into marketing hype and a level of "sneakiness" in that they hope the consumer will be in a hurry, won't look very hard or otherwise just not notice. That irks me more than anything.

                For me, the issue is that not everyone is smart and this sort of practice takes advantage of that. There are a ton of developmentally delayed diabetics that are taught to read labels before eating packaged foods-it is critical- and this sort of shit makes it impossible for them. Makes me mad.