Claims on Labels
In addition to mandating nutrients and ingredients that must appear on food labels, any nutrient content claims must meet certain requirements. For example, a manufacturer cannot claim that a food is fat-free or low-fat if it is not, in reality, fat-free or low-fat. Low-fat indicates that the product has three or fewer grams of fat; low salt indicates there are fewer than 140 milligrams of sodium per reference amount, low-cholesterol indicates there are fewer than 20 milligrams of cholesterol per reference amount and low saturated fat indicates there are fewer than two grams of saturated fat per reference amount. See Table 184.108.40.206 “Common Label Terms Defined” for some examples.
Table 220.127.116.11 Common Label Terms Defined
|Lean||Fewer than a set amount of grams of fat for that particular cut of meat|
|High||Contains more than 20% of the nutrient’s DV|
|Good source||Contains 10 to 19% of nutrient’s DV|
|Light/lite||Contains ⅓ fewer calories or 50% less fat; if more than half of calories come from fat, then fat content must be reduced by 50% or more|
|Organic||Contains 95% organic ingredients|
Note: When foods contain a certain amount of nutrients they are required to use front of package labeling. DV: Daily Value. Source: Food Labeling Guide. US Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov. Updated February 10, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2017.
Often we hear news of a particular nutrient or food product that contributes to our health or may prevent disease. A health claim is a statement that links a particular food with a reduced risk of developing disease. As such, health claims such as “reduces heart disease,” must be evaluated by the FDA or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before it may appear on packaging. Prior to the passage of the NLEA products that made such claims were categorized as drugs and not food. All health claims must be substantiated by scientific evidence in order for it to be approved and put on a food label. To avoid having companies making false claims, laws also regulate how health claims are presented on food packaging. In addition to the claim being backed up by scientific evidence, it may never claim to cure or treat the disease. Click the following link for a detailed list of approved health claims in Canada.
Qualified Health Claims
While health claims must be backed up by hard scientific evidence, qualified health claims have supportive evidence, which is not as definitive as with health claims. The evidence may suggest that the food or nutrient is beneficial. Wording for this type of claim may look like this: “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. One serving of [name of food] provides [X] grams of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. [See nutrition information for total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol content.]
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announces Qualified Health Claims for Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Some companies claim that certain foods and nutrients have benefits for health even though no scientific evidence exists. In these cases, food labels are permitted to claim that you may benefit from the food because it may boost your immune system, for example. There may not be claims of diagnosis, cures, treatment, or disease prevention, and there must be a disclaimer that the FDA has not evaluated the claim.
In Canada food manufacturers are required to list on their packages if the product contains any of the eight most common ingredients that cause food allergies. These eight common allergens are as follows: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat or other gluten sources, mustard, sesame seeds, sulphites. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires warnings when cross contamination may have occur during food processing or packaging. For instance, you may notice a label that states, “This product is manufactured in a factory that also processes peanuts.” If you have food allergies, it is best to avoid products that may have been contaminated with the allergen.
When Enough Is Enough
Estimating Portion Size
Have you ever heard the expression, “Your eyes were bigger than your stomach?” This means that you thought you wanted a lot more food than you could actually eat. Amounts of food can be deceiving to the eye, especially if you have nothing to compare them to. It is very easy to heap a pile of mashed potatoes on your plate, particularly if it is a big plate, and not realize that you have just helped yourself to three portions instead of one.
The food industry has made following the 2019 Dietary Guidelines a challenge. In many restaurants and eating establishments, portion sizes have increased, and consequently the typical meal contains more calories than it used to. In addition, our sedentary lives make it difficult to expend enough calories during normal daily activities. In fact, more than one-third of adults are not physically active at all.
Figure 18.104.22.168 A Comparison of Serving Sizes.
As food sizes and servings increase it is important to limit the portions of food consumed on a regular basis. Dietitians have come up with some good hints to help people tell how large a portion of food they really have. Some suggest using common items such as a deck of cards while others advocate using your hand as a measuring rule. 
Table 22.214.171.124 Determining Food Portions
|Food Product||Amount||Object Comparison||Hand Comparison|
|Pasta, rice||½ c.||Tennis ball||Cupped hand|
|Fresh vegetables||1 c.||Baseball|
|Cooked vegetables||½ c.||Cupped hand|
|Meat, poultry, fish||3 oz.||Deck of cards||Palm of your hand|
|Milk or other beverages||1 c.||Fist|
|Salad dressing||1 Tbsp.||Thumb|
|Oil||1 tsp.||Thumb tip|
Note: Everyday object comparisons can be used to determine portion sizes.
Source: Discovering Nutrition Facts
If you wait many hours between meals, there is a good chance you will overeat. To refrain from overeating try consuming small meals at frequent intervals throughout the day as opposed to two or three large meals. Eat until you are satisfied, not until you feel “stuffed.” Eating slowly and savoring your food allows you to both enjoy what you eat and have time to realize that you are full before you get overfull. Your stomach is about the size of your fist but it expands if you eat excessive amounts of food at one sitting. Eating smaller meals will diminish the size of your appetite over time so you will feel satisfied with smaller amounts of food.
- Controlling Portion Sizes. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/TakeControlofYourWeight/controlling-portion-sizes. Updated January 12, 2012. Accessed November 30, 2017. ↵