Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Rounding Down" to Dupe Consumers = Bad Food

Question: How can a product that is almost pure fat be advertised as Fat Free?

Answer: By reducing the serving size so that the amount of fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams.

      The primary ingredient of the PAM Cooking spray illustrated here is canola oil, which is marked with a note 'ADDS A TRIVIAL AMOUNT OF FAT' and the Nutrition Facts proclaim: Total Fat 0g.

 Why?  Because the serving size has been defined to be a 1/3 second spray containing 0.266g of product. Since this is less than half a gram (0.5g) per serving, it can be rounded to zero.

The claim takes advantage of the FDA regulation that allows rounding to zero any ingredients that account for less than 0.5 grams per serving.

The line above the Nutrition Facts, states that 'A 1 SECOND SPRAY COVERS A 10" SKILLET'.
 A one-second spray would contain approximately 0.8g of fat with 7 calories and would have to be reported on the Nutrition Facts. The manufacturer has chosen to reduce the serving size in order to avoid reporting the fat in the Nutrition Facts and to be able to add the slogan "for Fat Free Cooking" in the front of the can. Technically, this complies with the FDA requirements.

So I tested this. I had my son ( who LOVES his stopwatch ) time me as I sprayed a fairly large skillet with Pam from my cupboard. My time? A little over 3 seconds. That's right! I sprayed that pan for 9 times longer than the serving size on the container!

The I Can't Believe it's Not Butter spray, which is an emulsion of soybean oil and water, also claims to have zero calories and fat if you use 1.25 sprays (0.25g). How are you supposed to accomplish a .25 spray?
Water, Liquid Soybean Oil, Salt, Sweet Cream Buttermilk, Xanthan Gum, Soy Lecithin, Polysorbate 60, Lactic Acid, (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Disodium EDTA) as Preservatives, Artificial Flavor, Colored with Beta Carotene, Vitamin A (Palmitate).

No Trans Fatty Acids




     Trans fats have been nicknamed "stealth fats" because they have not been shown on food labels. Some food products may show 17g of Total Fat, 3.5g of Saturated Fat, and nothing else. What kind of fat is the remaining 13.5g? Nobody knows without doing a laboratory analysis. Technically, trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids with uncommon configurations that have been implicated as causing cardiovascular diseases. Some margarines, like Benecol margarine, claim to have no trans fatty acids. The ingredients, however, show the presence of partially hydrogenated oil that cannot be manufactured without creating trans fatty acids.  Reduction of serving sizes to implement this type of misinformation became more frequent when the new FDA regulations requiring disclosure of trans fats went into effect in 2006.

 Thank you, Scientific Psychic...

The FDA provides guidelines about the claims and descriptions that
manufacturers may use in food labeling to promote their products:
Claim Requirements that must be met
before using the claim in food labeling
Fat-Free Less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, with no added fat or oil
Low fat 3 grams or less of fat per serving
Less fat 25% or less fat than the comparison food
Saturated Fat Free Less than 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 0.5 grams of trans-fatty acids per serving
Cholesterol-Free Less than 2 mg cholesterol per serving, and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving
Low Cholesterol 20 mg or less cholesterol per serving and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving
Reduced Calorie At least 25% fewer calories per serving than the comparison food
Low Calorie 40 calories or less per serving
Extra Lean Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per (100 gram) serving of meat, poultry or seafood
Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 g of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per (100 gram) serving of meat, poultry or seafood
Light (fat) 50% or less of the fat than in the comparison food (ex: 50% less fat than our regular cheese)
Light (calories) 1/3 fewer calories than the comparison food
High-Fiber 5 grams or more fiber per serving
Sugar-Free Less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving
or Salt-Free
Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
Low Sodium 140 mg or less per serving
Very Low Sodium 35 mg or less per serving
Healthy A food low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and contains at least 10% of the Daily Values for vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or fiber.
"High", "Rich in" or "Excellent Source" 20% or more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient per serving
"Less", "Fewer" or
At least 25% less of a given nutrient or calories than the comparison food
"Low", "Little", "Few", or "Low Source of" An amount that would allow frequent consumption of the food without exceeding the Daily Value for the nutrient - but can only make the claim as it applies to all similar foods
"Good Source Of", "More", or "Added" The food provides 10% more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient than the comparison food