Anatomy of a Label: Breakfast Cereal
Health and Wellness
April 30, 2007
Just how confusing are our labels? In a recent SupermarketGuru.com Consumer Panel Survey, we found that over 66 percent of shoppers are reading food labelscompletely. However, less than 25 percent of those shoppers actually question what the claims mean. Each issue, we will dissect just what the claims really mean on the product's package. This month: Breakfast Cereal.
VITAMIN ENRICHED WITH 14 MINERALS
If a claim is made about any of the optional components, or if a food is fortified or enriched with any of them, nutrition information for these components becomes mandatory.
One of the most confusing of the claims - "lite" or "light" has a variety of definitions: when it comes to health, it can mean the food contains one-third fewer calories or one-half the fat of the traditional version of the food. However, the term "light" still can be used to describe such properties as texture and color, as long as the label explains the intent--for example, "light brown sugar" and "light and fluffy."
- One-third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food. (If 50 percent or more of the food's calories are from fat, the fat must be reduced by 50 percent.)
- A "low-calorie," "low-fat" food whose sodium content has been reduced by 50 percent of the reference food
- The sodium content of a low-calorie, low-fat food has been reduced by 50 percent. In addition, "light in sodium" may be used on food in which the sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent.
100% WHOLE GRAIN
Manufacturers can make factual statements about whole grains on the label of their products such as "100% whole grain " (as percentage labeling under 21 CFR 102.5(b)) or "10 grams of whole grains " (21 CFR 101.13(i) (3)) provided that the statements are not false or misleading under section 403(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and do not imply a particular level of the ingredient, i.e., "high " or "excellent source. "
RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
In order to use the terms, "High", "Rich in" or "Excellent Source" the product must contain 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient per serving. "Antioxidant" may be used with the already defined claims "good source of" and "high" to describe a nutrient for which a Reference Daily Intake value has been established (for example, vitamin C), and the nutrient is shown by scientific evidence to inactivate free radicals or to prevent free-radical-initiated chemical reactions in the body after a sufficient quantity of the nutrient has been absorbed.
This claim may be used if the food meets the definitions for the nutrient content claim "low saturated fat," "low-cholesterol," and "low-fat," or, if fish and game meats, for "extra lean." It may mention the link between reduced risk of CHD and lower saturated fat and cholesterol intakes to lower blood cholesterol levels.
MADE WITH REAL FRUIT
"Made with real fruit" is a good example of a how misleading a claim can be. The labeling laws do not require the label to say how much real fruit is in the product.
NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS, NO SUGAR ADDED, GLUTEN FREE AND SODIUM FREE
The term "free" or "no" added before a specific ingredient means that the food contains no amount of, or only trivial or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. For example, "calorie-free" means fewer than five calories per serving, and "sugar-free" and "fat-free" both mean less than 0.5 g per serving.