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What’s in a Label?

What’s in a Label?

"Cereal Labels"

The FDA requires certain information in food labeling and the rules are very explicit.  This is printed on the side/back of a box or can and includes:

  • serving size
  • nutrition facts
  • list of ingredients (in descending order by weight)
  • Reference Daily Intakes (RDI) for 19 vitamins and minerals (how much is required to maintain good health?)
  • Daily Reference Intake (the percentage of that nutrient which is provided by a single serving of this product)
  • a list of the top eight allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy)
  • Uniform definitions for nutrient claims like “light”, “high fiber”, etc.
  • trans fat and hydrogenated oil content
  • and more
A quick comparison of the 3 cereals in the picture above reveals the following:
  • One serving of Nabisco Shredded Wheat provides 9 grams fiber with 0 grams sugar.
  • One serving Uncle Sams provides 10 grams fiber with less than 1 gram sugar.
  • One serving Fruit Loops with Sprinkles provides 3 grams fiber with 12 grams sugar.
I also did a quick check of the ingredient list (which is required on label for every product, but noton every panel but not included in this picture ) and found that NSW contains 3 ingredients, US has 4 and FLWS has… well, I stopped at 30 (and 3 or 4 of those are listed as possible carcinogens by Bill Statham in What’s in Your Food?
We have easy access to a lot of information, mandated by the FDA and presented in a specific way, making it easy to compare products.  So take a few minutes to check your labels before you check out at the grocery store.


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