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How accurate are food labels?

October 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you think your favorite snack is void of trans fat, saturated fat, or or even sugar - think again. The FDA has a little known loop hole regarding food labels that could be giving you a bit more of these ingredients than you realize. "You can see we have evaporated cane juice, organic molasses," explains dietitian Alyse Levine.

Checking out a box cereal, Alyse Levine reveals all the aliases she found for sugar.

"Anything with 'ose,' glucose, sucrose fructose, if you see 'ose' at the end of the word, it's a sugar," said Levine.

It is something we get too much of she says. But surprisingly, even if it's organic the body metabolizes all these sweeteners the same.

Experts suggest we get just ten percent of our daily intake from added sugars, yet Americans get far more.

Naturally occurring sugar from dairy and fresh fruit is the exception since they provide much needed nutrients.

But perhaps the larger problem is stealth trans and saturated fats. Often hidden due to a little known label loop hole.

It could be sugar, trans fat, saturated fat the regulation is the same.

If there is less than one gram of any ingredient, the manufacturer is allowed to list it as .5 or a half a gram, which means free. Sugar free, saturated fat free, trans fat free is still legal.

"So lets say something was .9, and they are writing .5 on the label -- if you think by having 2 or 3 servings you're only having a gram to a gram and a half, you're actually consuming close to 3 grams," explains Levine.

Keep in mind there is no established upper limit for trans fat. Having none at all is best.

Trans fat is featured in the ingredient list as partially hydrogenated oil. Saturated fat generally appears as palm or coconut oil.

And the higher it's up on the ingredient list, the more the product contains. As always scrutinize those food facts.

 

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