Food Labels 101 (a)

November 12, 2009 at 8:28 am 2 comments


Law-makers in the U.S have forced Kellogs to remove the immunity health claim from their cereal boxes

I plan to provide further information on label reading over the next little while to help parents navigate the grocery aisle.  If you have a particular question about a food product or label, send me a note and I will try and address it on the blog!

There has been some talk in the news lately about a new study from Yale about Breakfast Cereals, and the results of the study are important, but sadly, not new.  You can read the article from CBC here: click here!

Here are the highlights…

  •  Cereal companies are spending $156 million a year marketing to children, using television, web sites and online virtual worlds
  • The least healthy cereals are marketed most aggressively.  These cereals are full of sugar and sodium and low in fibre.

In the U.S., law-makers are beginning to take action and the results have been positive for families.  In San Francisco, law-makers sent a letter to cereal companies asking them to provide research information to prove the health facts printed on labels.  The Connecticut Attorney General sent a letter to all 8 cereal companies informing them of an investigation into the recently rolled out Smart Choice label.  His letter stated “My investigation… continues to seek any scientific research and evidence behind a program that promotes mayonnaise, sugar-loaded cereal and ice cream as healthy choices…Self responsibility and good parenting are key to healthy lifestyles, but impossible when food manufacturers misguide them”.  YAY!  This strong letter resulted in all 8 food companies involved in the Smart Choices program to put the program on hold.    

How does Canada fare?  We have food mis-labelling issues of our own.  Health Check, Blue Menu and other store ‘healthy’ brands can be misleading.  Health Check has been targeted frequently in the media and with good reason.  A company has to pay to put the logo on their package.  This means that often better products are overlooked by individuals because they wrongly assume that product is the best on the shelf.  This goes for all of the health related labels.  In Canada there are only four claims that can be made on the front of a package

  •  A diet that is low in sodium and high in potassium can reduce the risk of high blood pressure;
  • A diet with a sufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of osteoporosis;
  • A diet that is low in saturated and trans fats can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease;
  • A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

The following statements are not health-related and must be read with an eye to detail…

  •  Calorie-Reduced – this is only in relation to the original product, and not necessarily healthier
  • Low Fat – what replaced the fat?  Often it is sugar
  • Light – can refer to flavour, colour, taste, texture (not calories, like you probably thought!)
  • Enriched – The natural nutrients were removed during processing & replaced with man-made nutrient substitutes
  • Fortified – Extra nutrients are added.  This disrupts the natural ratio of nutrition in the food.  Did you know that you can get too much calcium?  When you have more than 500 mg at one time the extra calcium is stored along artery walls

Is there a food label or ad that drives you crazy?  Whenever I see that add for Nutella (which has its first ingredient as sugar), I get angry!  Delicious?  Yes!  Nutritious?  NO! 


Entry filed under: Moms Need to Know. Tags: , , , .

Pesto Pizza Poppers! Portion Control!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Heather (The Momshell Diet)  |  November 13, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Can I just say that I love you for making your own “goldfish”.

    • 2. lkmnut  |  November 14, 2009 at 8:19 pm

      THANK YOU!!!! That’s the nicest compliment!


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