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Truly shocking...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

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Low-calorie foods could contain more energy than labels state
06-Jan-2010
Related topics: Science & Nutrition

Reduced-calorie versions of packaged foods could contain significantly more calories than stated on nutrition labels, according to a new study from the American Dietetic Association.

The study, carried out by researchers at Tufts University in Boston, raises concerns that individuals’ efforts to moderate calorie intake in order to lose weight could be hampered by inaccurate labeling.

The researchers measured the energy values of ten single units of packaged ready meals and found the meals contained an average of eight percent more calories than appeared on nutrition labels, with the biggest differences recorded for a Bell & Evans grilled chicken breast meal, which contained 31 percent more calories than stated, and 28 percent more for Lean Cuisine shrimp and angel hair pasta. However, some convenience meals did come in lower than their stated calorie content, with a South Beach Living roasted turkey meal containing ten percent fewer calories.

Director of marketing for Bell & Evans Tom Stone told FoodNavigator-USA.com that the company typically tests its products once a year to ensure accurate nutrition labeling but that the company would look at the product again.

He added: “This is not ground up like chicken nuggets. Being an animal product, it goes back to the individual animal.”

No one from Nestlé USA, which makes Lean Cuisine, responded to a request for comment prior to publication.

The researchers wrote: “Positive energy balance of only five percent per day for an individual requiring 2,000 kcal/day could lead to a 10-lb weight gain in a single year. If widespread, this phenomenon could hamper efforts to self-monitor energy intake to control weight, and could also reduce the potential benefit of recent policy initiatives to disseminate information on food energy content at the point of purchase."

Food and Drug Administration regulations do allow food manufacturers to exceed the calorie statement by up to 20 percent, but weight must be 99 percent accurate, the researchers noted, adding that greater leniency in terms of energy rather than weight may contribute to energy values being greater than measured.

Nevertheless, they did acknowledge that prepared meals and restaurant foods “do not typically contain substantially more energy than stated” and “the majority of foods tested were not out of compliance with US Food and Drug Administration regulations because most fell within the 20 percent overage the Administration allows for packaged food”.

Restaurant meals tested were even less accurate, the researchers found. Of 29 quick-serve and sit-down restaurant meals analyzed, calorie content averaged 18 percent more than stated. There is no FDA-regulated limit for the amount by which a restaurant meal may exceed stated calorie content, the researchers wrote.

Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Volume 110, Issue 1 (January 2010)

"The Accuracy of Stated Energy Contents of Reduced-Energy, Commercially Prepared Foods"

Authors: Lorien E. Urban, Gerard E. Dallal, Lisa M. Robinson, Lynne M. Ausman, Edward Saltzman, and Susan B. Roberts.




First thing in the morning this is quite a wake up call....and another good reason to cook from scratch whenever possible!

I never knew about the 20% allowance rule...

I guess I am lucky that sifting through such industry news is part of my job as it keeps me on my toes...(the newsletters are however accessible everyone and FREE!)

I am struggling a little to fit in the bootcamp and the cardio in the evening as I get from work late, which prompted me last night to make a bad decision (exercise after dinner...right before going to bed). If I ever doubted the ability of exercise to give you an energy boost, boy was I seriously wrong...

My body was awake until abround midnight, whilst the whole time my brain was screaming to it "shut up and go to SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!"

So today it will be walk at lunch time so I can do a shorter work out in the evening, but I really need to get my menus organised to "find" time for exercise before dinner...
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JUNIAAGAIN
    O boy do I understand what you mean with finding time in the evening to do it all! The good thing for me is that I am so tired by 8 that even coach Nicole's jump start does not get me bright and shining these days (must see what else is wrong with me). But that cooking from scratch is most important I found a long, long time ago. Then nobody can fool you with the calorie counts. I've got this ancient cook-book with the nutrition on all basic foods and this was a great help. Now, there is the nutrition tracker, but tracking it like that I never see what the counts are in the end as I did when I was actually looking them up and calculating. Oh well, there is a down side to everything. AND thanks for commenting on my page. No harm done. It is good enough that there is somebody on SP at all times. Good luck with balance!
    3859 days ago
  • JUNIAAGAIN
    O boy do I understand what you mean with finding time in the evening to do it all! The good thing for me is that I am so tired by 8 that even coach Nicole's jump start does not get me bright and shining these days (must see what else is wrong with me). But that cooking from scratch is most important I found a long, long time ago. Then nobody can fool you with the calorie counts. I've got this ancient cook-book with the nutrition on all basic foods and this was a great help. Now, there is the nutrition tracker, but tracking it like that I never see what the counts are in the end as I did when I was actually looking them up and calculating. Oh well, there is a down side to everything. AND thanks for commenting on my page. No harm done. It is good enough that there is somebody on SP at all times. Good luck with balance!
    3859 days ago
  • HEALTHY4JEANNE
    20% allowance seems a little high.
    thank you for posting this!
    I am pulling my cookbooks out tonight!
    3863 days ago
  • no profile photo ALEMAPO
    Yep, it's true. Food you prepare yourself from scratch is always best. I think I had heard that some weren't accurate but I didn't know there was actually an amount stated they could be off. I also think I have read that for instance a food can consider itself trans-fat free as long as it is below a certain amount. I know for a fact once that I read there is a certain amount of insect parts that are allowed in foods. Yummy!
    emoticon
    3863 days ago
  • KYREE90
    Interesting ... and very good to know. You're right. We should be cooking at home! emoticon
    3863 days ago
  • WAZZU.REN
    Wow, thanks for posting! Although I am not sure I am a fan of knowing this as I don't have any way to combat this new knowledge and I find it quite depressing actually!


    3863 days ago
  • CODEMAULER
    I don't quite understand how or why such a margin of error is tolerated, but I'm glad to know about it now!
    3863 days ago
  • JCARDINAL
    Thanks for the info. I is discouraging to know they can get away with a 20% margin of error. I can rally mess up your calorie totals for the day.
    3863 days ago
  • JBMT08
    Thanks for this, this is similar to the article link I posted from Time magazine yesterday, well, the above is more in depth! it is shocking!!
    3863 days ago
  • BROWREN
    Wow! I had no idea. 20% is still a large margin of error and for most scientific analyses that I have ever done would not be acceptable results. I would think that it would not be enough for an actual conclusion to place on a label to state as fact. So, now I am wondering about the validity of labeling here in Canada as well.
    3863 days ago
  • MSLZZY
    I read this article. Oh, my-what a scary thought!
    You need to change your workout time so you can get some sleep. I'm a believer. It pays to exercise earlier in the day so the body can wind down.
    3863 days ago
  • BPELLER
    Thanks for the good information.
    3863 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5128667
    Why in the #&$#@! are these kinds of "loopholes" allowed to remain in place at all! Doesn't help any of us in our journeys one bit! FDA, you really dropped the ball this time!

    emoticon

    Sigh - is it any wonder I'm as "mad as hell"?

    Have a gr8 day - and thank you for the information!
    3863 days ago
  • SPIFFYCAT
    eeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkk emoticon
    that is disgusting you rely on the labels to be right so you can work out your daily calories.
    Thank you for bringing our notice to this...
    3863 days ago
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