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Tag: nutrition label

As I walked from my car towards the school grounds, it was like a scene out of a movie. Over a hundred girls in varying heights and coordinated t-shirts,  stood in a semi-circle around a Troop Leader with a bull horn. She was standing next to the American flag spelling out the rules of the Costa de OroInvestigate Your World Day Camp. This was the Santa Barbara Girl Scouts Summer Camp and I was there to present a session on reading food labels.
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We at Be Food Smart, are constantly telling and teaching people to read the nutrition facts and ingredient lists. It is, by all accounts, the only way to know what’s in packaged food.  Many argue, however, that the current labeling system is confusing and doesn’t allow Americans to quickly tell if the food they are about to buy or consume is good for them.  Ingredient lists are a pain too. Have you ever noticed the the smallest possible font size is used in combination with leaving Caps Locks on? This is not by accident. They’d rather you not read the 45 ingredients on that box of crackers. The good news is that the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of updating the required nutritional facts. It will be interesting to see how consumer friendly the new labels turns out. Yes, I am a bit cynical when it comes to the FDA siding with the consumer and not the food industry.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Rethink the Food Label project which is put on by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s News21 program and Good Magazine. Here is how they describe the project:

We asked the public, food thinkers, nutritionists, and designers to redesign the Nutrition Facts Label to make it easier to read and more useful to people who want to consume healthier, more nutritious and wholesome food. Designs could incorporate the nutrition label’s existing break down of fats, sugars, vitamins, calorie counts and percent daily values. Or, they could re-imagine the label to include geography, food quality, food justice, carbon footprint, or lesser-known chemosensory characteristics. Above all, we asked for designs that were informative, instructive and memorable.
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will require nutritional labeling of raw meats and poultry beginning January 1, 2012. Here is an overview of the types of meats covered and exemptions:

Major cuts: This final rule requires nutrition labeling of the major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products that are not ground or chopped, except for certain exemptions (see below). For these products, the final rule requires that nutrition information be provided on the label or at point-of-purchase, unless an exemption applies.

Ground or Chopped Products: This final rule requires that nutrition labels be provided for all ground or chopped products (livestock or poultry) and hamburger, with or without added seasonings, unless an exemption applies
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Understand Nutrition Labels

Below is a link to the US FDA site which reviews in detail how to read a nutrition label. Even though I’ve been reading these labels since I was 10, I still learned a few things. Might be worth a review even if you consider yourself an expert!

How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label.