Making Sense of Supermarket Labels

Reduced sodium or low sodium? Low fat or light? Which is better for you? NBC 7’s Consumer Bob explains food label buzzwords that can trip up shoppers at the grocery store.

(Source: Consumer Reports)

“Natural”: Doesn’t necessarily mean that a food is free of additives. There is no formal definition of natural. Same is true with “Made with Natural Ingredients” and “Naturally Flavored.”

“Organic”: More trustworthy on a label because it is a term that is well regulated.

“Multigrain”: Just means that the food contains more than one type of grain. Can still be processed.

“Whole Grain”: Means the food is certified by the Whole Grains Council that you are getting at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving or 16 grams if the stamp says “100% Whole Grain.”

“Reduced Fat”: Only means food has at least 25 percent less fat than its regular version, which could be high in fat to begin with.

“Lite or Light Fat”: Can mean various things. The light version generally means it has no more than a third or half the fat content of the regular version.

“Low Fat”: Must have 3 grams or less of fat per serving.

“Sugar Free”: It means that the food has less than a half-gram of sugar per serving. Could still include artificial sweeteners.

“No Added Sugar”: Only means that sugar wasn’t added in processing, but that does not mean the product is without sugar.

“Excellent Source of Fiber”: Federally defined standard that a product must have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Same is true with “High Fiber”.

“Good Source of Fiber”:
Standard says must have at least 2.5 grams per serving.

“Extra Fiber”: Food with extra fiber should supply at least 10 percent more of the Daily Value per serving than a similar food.

“Low Sodium”: Must contain no more than 140 milligrams per serving.

“Reduced Sodium”: Food item only needs to be 25 percent lower than the regular version.

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