Lite or Light? Reduced fat, lowfat or nonfat? What do these common terms mean to the grocery shopper?

Food labels have drastically changed throughout the years. Before 1994, 40% of the nation's processed food had absolutely no nutrition labeling. This meant there was no way for consumers to get any information about what was in the food. Today we have laws that give consumers the right to know exactly what they are getting when they buy food items.

LAWS

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food manufacturers must list the contents of every product in both metric and pound units. Labeling laws also require:

• a standard format for listing nutritional information
• ingredient listings on all foods, including standardized food with two or more ingredients
• appropriate use claims about the relationship between a nutrient or food which reduces the risk of a disease or health-related condition
• uniform definitions for nutrient claims such as "low-fat" and "higher-fiber"

THE MEANING OF NUTRIENT CLAIMS

• High-Protein: at least 10 grams of high quality protein per serving
• Good Source of Calcium: at least 100 milligrams of calcium per serving
• More Iron: at least 1.8 milligrams more iron per serving than the reference food (Label will say 10% more of Daily Value for Iron)
• Fat-Free: less than .5 grams of fat per serving
• Reduced or Fewer Calories: at least 25% fewer calories per serving than the reference food
• Sugar Free: less than .5 grams of sugar per serving

Food labels are required by law to follow specific guidelines so the knowledgeable consumer knows what is inside the package and can make wise food buying decisions.

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