Food for thought

Nutrition Health Claims

By November 6, 2019 No Comments

Have you ever seen claims made on food packages and unsure what they mean? It is important to understand these to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of clever marketing that may not be so beneficial to your health.

The ingredient list is in order of most to least by weight. According to the Baker Institute, if it is a source of fat, sugar or salt listed in the first 3 ingredients, there may be a better choice available. 

Below are some common words used in the ingredient list that mean the same thing as these 3 ingredients:

Fat Cocoa Butter, margarine, milk solids, full cream milk powder, shortening, vegetable, palm or coconut oil, cream, butter or beef tallow.

Sugar Barley  or rice malt, rice syrup, cane or brown sugar, glucose, golden, corn or rice syrup, concentrated fruit juice, dextrose, fructose, maltose, maltodextrin, sucrose or blackstrap molasses.

Salt Sodium bicarbonate, MSG, rock salt, sodium, glutamate, mineral salts, celery/garlic salt or baking powder.

It is important to note that many claims made on food packages can be very misleading and with the knowledge of knowing what may be misleading vs. what may assist you choosing the healthier option is vital when shopping.

Would you find the below Health Claims misleading? Let’s have a look to see how they stack up.

 

Health Claim

Suitable?

Comment

Example

97% Fat Free Yes – Good choice Contains ≤3g fat per 100g.

Low fat choice, but still need to check sugar and salt levels.

97% fat free mayonnaise.
Cholesterol Free Misleading Only animal products contain cholesterol. May still be high in fat/energy. Cholesterol free vegetable oil.
Natural/Organic Misleading May have the same amount of sugar/fat/energy as regular varieties. Organic chocolate.
Reduced Fat Misleading May still be high in fat, just a lower amount than the original product. 25% reduced fat cheese.
Low Fat Yes, good choice Contains ≤3g fat per 100g and lower in fat than the original product.

Low fat choice, but still need to check sugar and salt levels.

Low fat yoghurt
Toasted or Baked Misleading Usually cooked with fat (instead of in it) – check the fat content Toasted muesli, savoury biscuits
Lite or Light Misleading May refer to taste, texture or colour – check the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) Light olive oil
No added sugar Potentially misleading No added white sugar, but other sugars might be used. E.g. Fructose. Check the NIP Fruit juice
Diet Yes, good choice Low in kilojoules, often sweetened with artificial sweeteners. Diet soft drink, cordial, jelly
% Daily Intake Potentially misleading % DI is based on the amounts of nutrients needed for an average adult. You may need more or less than the %DI and this will vary based on your age, weight and gender. Breads, cereals, muesli bars, confectionary
Usually a good choice This product meets standards for saturated and trans-fat and salt. Total sugar may be high. Check the NIP.  Cereals, biscuits, spreads
Usually a good choice Health star ratings are based on lower energy, saturated fat, salt and sugar content and may reflect high fibre, protein, fruit, vegetable, legume and nut content. This does not take sugar or the Glycaemic Index into account – May be misleading. Nutrigrain, Milo.
Yes, good choice Products have been tested for Glycaemic Index (GI). There may be suitable choices that do not have the symbol. (E.g. Home brand foods). Home brand multigrain bread
Liz

Liz

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