The Diet Detective: Understand Your Food Labels

Why it Matters: When you see the term "healthy" on the label you can have a certain level of confidence that the food meets these requirements. One interesting note: Even if the word "healthy" appears only in the name of the product (such as Healthy Choice), it must meet these requirements. 

A "Good Source" or "Excellent Source"

What it Means:
"Good Source": One serving contains or provides 10 percent to 19 percent of the DV per RACC for the indicated nutrient. The term may be also used on meals or main dishes to indicate that the product contains a food that meets the definition.

 
Example. Good source of fiber: Contains 10 percent to 19 percent of the DV for fiber (2.5-4.75 grams per serving).
 
"High," "Rich In" or "Excellent Source Of": Contains 20 percent or more of the DV per RACC for the indicated nutrient. May also be used on meals or main dishes to indicate that the product contains a food that meets the definition.
 
Example. High source of fiber:
Contains 20 percent or more of the DV for fiber (at least 5 grams per serving).
 

Why it Matters: This is especially important for some nutrients and vitamins, such as fiber, vitamin C, potassium and protein. When you see these terms on the package you can have a certain level of confidence that the product meets these requirements.

 
"Lean" or "Extra Lean"

What it Means:
Lean:
This claim may be used on seafood or game meat products that contain less than 10 grams total fat, 4.5 grams or less saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams cholesterol per RACC and for meals and main dishes that meet these criteria per 100 grams or per labeled serving. It can also be used on mixed dishes not measurable with a cup that contain less than 8 grams total fat, 3.5 grams or less saturated fat and less than 80 milligrams cholesterol per RACC.
 
Extra Lean: May be used on seafood or game meat products that contain less than 5 grams total fat, less than 2 grams saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams cholesterol per RACC, and on meals or main dishes that meet these criteria per 100 grams or per labeled serving.

Why it Matters:

Seeing this claim on meats or frozen foods allows you to be confident that the food meets the labeled criteria. One interesting note: Even if the word "lean" appears only in the name of the product (such as Lean Cuisine), it must meet these requirements.  


Charles Stuart Platkin is an Active Expert , nutrition and public health advocate, author of the best seller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), Breaking the FAT Pattern (Plume, 2006) and Lighten Up (Penguin USA/Razorbill, 2006) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Sign up for The Diet Detective newsletter free at www.dietdetective.com.

Copyright 2010 by Charles Stuart Platkin

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