Posted on 05/04/2015

Oh! the Confusion of Labels

Doesn't it drive you crazy? I'm talking about trying to understand packaged food labels. You think you have it down but then, when you think you have it figured out, media headlines send you back to the ropes. Recently we had just such a headline letting us know KIND Bars aren't 'healthy' as the company claims, according to the FDA. What do you do in this crazy world of food labels? My suggestion is, ignore it! Most of it anyway. This is easy to do if you have a basic understanding into the politics of 'food' and what defines 'healthy', 'wholesome' and 'food'.

Oh! the politics.....The government, FDA, has decided after collecting all sorts of scientific data (and maybe a few lobbying $$) what we should eat and in what amounts they considered healthy. Labeling laws are meant to let the consumer know that if certain terms, statements or adjectives are used on a label that it is truthful according to the FDA and their determined Nutritional Values. In most cases these statements are not based on the ingredients use to make the product but the Nutritional Values alone. As we move on you'll see there is a huge problem with this way of thinking. But let's get back to the label. KIND bars claim to 'Health' was based on ingredients albeit not by the FDA Nutritional Values label law regulations. So too much saturated fat in a serving was the labeling problem. KIND bars are made of an assortment of nuts, dried fruit and honey. Sound wholesome but that's not the point. Too much saturated fat per serving is the point according to the FDA. The nuts are cited as the culprit for their natural state puts them in the high fat food category. (Don't get ahead of yourself! Fat isn't a bad thing IF it's eaten correctly.) According to the FDA label regulations in order to use the term 'Healthy' a serving must have less than 1g of saturated fat. The Am Heart Assoc and the FDA agrees that saturated fat intake should not exceed 16g per day, which is about 6% of calories in a 2000 calorie a day diet. Confused yet? The FDA is telling you it's ok to eat up to 16grams of saturated fat a day but not more that 1g in any one item at any one time. Hold on to something because this regulation stuff gets even better! The FDA recommends for a healthy diet to consume 1.5 oz of nuts a day. They must not want you to eat them all at once because depending on what nut you are eating 1.5 oz of nuts has 3-4grams of saturated fat. The USDA (another government regulatory body) recommends 1 oz of nuts daily but the USDA My Plate dietary chart recommends ½ oz daily. At the end of all this confusion all that really matters is that the FDA label law states in the use of the adjective 'Healthy' on the product label it can not have more than 1g of saturated fat per serving. Pheww....

Alright, so what's the take away on a label? It's the ingredient list. Read it first! Then ask yourself what is it you want to achieve by eating this item? If you are looking to be healthy; do the ingredients reflect that end goal? “Well, I don't know?”, might cross your mind. For giggles I am going to assume everyone wants to eat to be healthy. Health starts with wholesome. Wholesome is found in Nature as God provides. Our language has been corrupted so words can be misleading as in 'natural'. Natural is not necessarily health or wholesome.

To get a refresher on food and nutrition please read my previous blog posts: Nutrition 101, part 1 & 2, New Resolution, Three Key Points to Your Healthy Life and You Say You Don't But Do You? Links below:


Be Healthy Be Natural Be Tempted

(To disclose, I have no interest in KIND Bars.)