Origins & Information - Food Packaging Diction

I watched a very interesting documentary a little while ago that touched briefly upon food labeling and packaging and how it affects the consumer's choices. We all want to feel healthier by going for the "all natural" choice or "fat-free" but ultimately, do we know what regulations are in place to allow for accuracy? What do these phrases really mean? I got some insight from this source article here and wanted to share with you the info!

  • Low Fat - must have < 3 (hehe, I made an internet heart) grams of fat per serving: regulated by the FDA
  • Reduced Fat - less than 50% the fat of original version
  • Light - FDA term for fat, calories, or sodium (if referring to fat, must be 50% less fat than original unless the original was already less than 50% fatty calories; then it can refer to 1/3 reduction of calories or 50+% sodium reduction)
  • Zero Trans Fat - < 1/2 gram trans fat per serving
  • Cholesterol Free - < 2 mg cholesterol and < 2 grams saturated fat per serving
  • Lean - USDA requirement for meat which must have < 10 grams fat, < 4.5 grams saturated fat, < 95 mg cholesterol per 100 grams (some meats have been grandfathered in unfortunately so if they were "lean" before 1991, they still are labeled such)
  • Low Sodium - < 140 mg sodium per serving
  • Natural - currently no FDA guideline behind this though is subject to more scrutiny if it contains any added color, artificial flavors, or "synthetic substances"
  • Natural (meat) - USDA requires additional labeling on what makes the meat "natural"
  • Organic - currently no legal FDA guideline
  • USDA Organic - must be at least 95% organic
  • Made from Organic Ingredients - USDA label but only requires 70% of ingredients be organic
    Whole Wheat - actually made with whole wheat flour
  • Multigrain - means exactly what the word means in that multiple grains were used but it doesn't denote which grains used were whole or healthy
  • Free Range - only USDA enforced for poultry meaning that the animals had outside access; eggs and beef "free range" status is not regulated
  • Good Source Of - must prove at least 10% of USDA recommended daily allowance of the nutrient is in the food
    High Source Of - must prove at least  20% of USDA recommended daily allowance of the nutrient is in the food

Hope that helps as you make your purchasing choices in the future!