11 Common Words with Very Specific Meanings on Food Labels

The Food and Drug Administration knows from experience that if terms are not strictly defined, manufacturers will push the boundaries of regulations as far as they can. That's why commonsense words that everyone sort of knows are defined with utmost precision when it comes to food labeling. Surprisingly, this doesn't always mean the standards for food are all that strict. Just strictly-defined. For example, the word "free":

If it’s free of fat, or sugar, or salt, it doesn’t mean that not one trace of those things is to be found in it. The FDA evaluates certain terms with reference to a typical portion size known as an RACC (reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion). An RACC of eggnog, for example, is ½ cup. For croutons, it’s 7 grams, and for scrambled eggs, 100 grams. To be labeled “free” of calories, the food must have less than 5 per RACC. For fat and sugar, less than .5 grams. For sodium, less than 5 milligrams. Also, the food must somehow be processed to be “free” of those things in order to get the simple “free” label. You can’t have “fat free lettuce,” only “lettuce, a fat free food.”

Other words defined are "light," "natural," and "more," among others. Learn what those really mean in your food at mental_floss. Link

(Image credit: Flickr user Enokson)

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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"Gluten Free" allows up to 20 parts per million of gluten. To those of us whose sensitivity precludes any gluten whatsoever it is of no value. I prefer the term "No Gluten", which applies to things like apples, oranges, potatoes, rice, nuts, etc.

The funny thing is how they use the term "Natural Flavors" to hide their 20 ppm of gluten. You know there is a bean counter whose company makes a million pounds of product insisting on adding twenty pounds of wheat because "it helps the bottom line and is completely legal".

Anything that says "Made in a facility that also processes wheat" is unsuitable.

The fact that they are trying doesn't mean they are succeeding.
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My wife has issues with blood pressure and so watches her sodium. She bought a no salt ketchup which does have only 5 mg of Sodium. And 170 mg of Potassium. So salt must only mean table salt or sodium.
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