The truth behind the label

Diposkan oleh rutusibande | 8:42 PM

Knowing how to read nutrient labels will help you to make better food choices when shopping. Marketing slogans that call a product ‘healthy’ or ‘natural‘ can make a food sound a lot better than the ingredients would merit. When we are too busy we tend to believe what is written on the front of the package, rather than taking the time to read what is on the back. For example, popcorn is considered a great low-fat snack. However, if you buy the microwave or prepared versions, you will find they can be a lot higher in salt and fat than if you buy dried corn and pop it yourself. If advertising can be misleading, let’s have a look at what some of these terms really mean.

A. ‘Lite’ or ‘Light’

This can mean a number of things and not necessarily that the product is lower in kilojoules or fat. Lite potato crisps may be thinly sliced and lightly salted, but they may still contain a high fat content. Light olive oil has a lighter flavour, light beer has less alcohol content, light margarine has less fat, light cheese has less fat and salt. It is important you check the label for what it is that has been ‘lightened’.

B. `Ninety per cent fat free‘

This really means the food contains 10 per cent fat - however, saying it the other way round makes it sound better!

C. `Reduced fat’

This means the food has less fat than its normal version (usually 25-30 per cent). It may not necessarily be low in fat. ‘Low fat’ does not necessarily mean healthy, either, especially if more processing has occurred to reduce the fat content. It is not just the amount of fat but also the type of fat that matters.

D. `Cholesterol free‘ or ‘no cholesterol’

This can be confusing. It does not mean that the product is free of fat.

E. `Fresh’ or ‘natural‘

Both of these terms get overused and abused. ‘Fresh’ should only be applied to foods that do not go through any preserving processes like freezing, canning or high temperatures. ‘Natural‘ is used to give the impression that this product is somehow superior. However, it should only be used when foods are left as close to their natural form as possible, as they exist in nature. That means foods with no additives, colourings or preservatives, unless they are natural themselves.

F. `No artificial colours or flavours’

This is a key selling point for a number of consumers. However, natural food colours, such as beta-carotene, or natural flavour extracts, such as orange and vanilla, can be used.

G. `No MSG’

MSG is a man-made chemical flavour enhancer. It can cause palpitations, headaches, dizziness, numbness and also trigger allergies such as asthma. It can be hidden in many products, such as hydrolysed vegetable protein, yeast extract, seasonings and spices. Many people now suffer from what has become recognised as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

H. `No preservatives‘

This generally means that no chemical preservatives are present, although other methods of preservation may have been used, like vacuum sealing or pasteurisation. It often appears on food products as reassurance, even if preservatives are not permitted in that particular food anyway.

I. `Reduced salt‘

This means the food contains 25 per cent less salt than the regular one. It must show the comparison with a reference food. It does not necessarily mean low salt. Watch out for this

J. `No added sugar‘

This means that there is no added cane sugar, glucose, fructose, malt, malt extract, maltose or honey. But it does not mean the product is low in sugar overall, or that no artificial sweetener has been added. Check the ingredients carefully.

K. `High in fibre‘

The food must contain at least 3 g of fibre per serving to be able to make this claim. Whole- grain breakfast cereals and mixed-grain breads fit into this category. Just because it says high in fibre does not mean it is low in sugar. ‘Very high in fibre‘ means it must contain 6 g of fibre per serving.

L. `High in protein’

The food must contain at least 5 g of protein per 100 g. Lean cuts of meat, chicken, eggs, milk and cheese can be in this category

M. `Gluten free‘

There must be no detectable gluten at all for a manufacturer to be able to make this claim. Wheat, rye, barley, oats and malt made from cereals or starch should not be present.

N. `Pure fruit juice‘

To be able to say ‘pure fruit juice‘, it must contain 100 per cent juice and no added water. However, it may contain up to 4 per cent added sugar, depending on seasonal sweetness of the fruit. This would have to be shown on the ingredients list.

O. `Fruit juice drink’

Only 25-50 per cent of the liquid is fruit juice. Most of these are sweetened with sugar and have water or other juices added.

P. `Fruit juice cordial’

Contains a minimum of 25 per cent fruit juice, but only around 5 per cent when made up with water. A lot of cordials also contain added sugar, flavours and colours.

Q. `Fruit drink’

Contains only 5 per cent fruit juice. Check for other ingredients.

R. `Wholemeal‘ bread

Should be made from 100 per cent wholemeal flour, or 90 per cent wholemeal and 10 per cent white flour, but you cannot rely on this figure. Check the label to see how much actual wholemeal content the bread contains. Wholemeal and wheatmeal can mean the same.

S. `Mixed grain’ or multigrain’ bread

There is no specific requirement, but it is usually made from white or wheat flour with added grains mixed in. This bread generally has a lower fibre content than wholemeal bread, but because of the grains, the carbohydrates are longer lasting.

T. `Cold pressed‘

Many oils are now being cold pressed and then solvent extracted. Make sure the label says ‘cold pressed, unrefined’ to get the most natural oil. It is legal to call an oil ‘cold pressed‘ and not mention the solvent extraction.

Source : Arlene