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Food Label Claims and Guidelines

Nutrition LabelWhen we read a nutrition label and see 0g of a particular nutrient, such as trans fat, we expect to be eating none of that nutrient. However, manufacturer’s can list an item as having 0g trans fat per serving if the food contains less than 0.5g. This can become a problem since most individuals consume more than 1 serving. 

There are many guidelines for health claims on products and food labeling. It is important to be familiar with these guidelines so that you know what it means when you buy a product labeled ‘Light’, ‘Fat Free’, etc. 

Listed below are many of the common claims placed on food items and their definitions.

Calories Total Fat Sodium
Cholesterol Saturated Fat Sugar
Items with health claims, but high in fats, cholesterol or sodium

Calories:

Claims Definition
Calorie Free, Zero Calories, No Calories,
Without Calories, Trivial Source of Calories, Negligible Source of Calories,
Dietarily Insignificant Source of Calories
Fewer than 5 calories per serving.
Low in Calories, Few Calories, Contains a Small Amount of Calories, Low Source of Calories Less than 40 calories per serving.
Reduced Calories, Fewer Calories 25% fewer calories than the original product.

Original product may not be "low calorie".
Light, Lite Meets definition for "Low Calorie" or "Low Fat".

Total Fat:

Claims Definition
Fat Free, Zero Fat, No Fat, Without Fat, Trivial Source of Fat, Negligible Source of Fat, Dietarily Insignificant Source of Fat Less than 0.5g fat per serving.
Low in Fat, Less Fat, Contains a Small Amount of Fat, Low Source of Fat Less than 3g fat per serving.
Reduced Fat, Less Fat At least 25% less fat per serving than the original food item.

Original product may not be "low fat".

Saturated Fat:

Claims Definition
Saturated Fat Free, Zero Saturated Fat, No Saturated Fat, Without Saturated Fat, Trivial Source of Saturated Fat, Negligible Source of Saturated Fat, Dietary Insignificant Source of Saturated Fat Less than 0.5g saturated fat and less than 0.5g trans fatty acids per serving.
Low in Saturated Fat, Less Saturated Fat, Low Source of Saturated Fat, Contains a Small Amount of Saturated Fat 1g saturated fat or less per serving and 15% or less calories from saturated fat.
Reduced Saturated Fat, Less Saturated Fat At least 25% less saturated fat per serving than the original item.

Original product may not be "Low Saturated Fat".

Cholesterol:

Claims Definition
Cholesterol Free, Zero Cholesterol, No Cholesterol, Without Cholesterol, Trivial Source of Cholesterol, Negligible Source of Cholesterol, Dietary Insignificant Source of Cholesterol Less than 2mg cholesterol per serving.
Low in Cholesterol, Less Cholesterol, Contains a Small Amount of Cholesterol, Low Source of Cholesterol 20mg cholesterol or less per serving.
Reduced Cholesterol, Less Cholesterol At least 25% less cholesterol per serving than the original item.

Original product may not be "Low Cholesterol".
* * * * * * * * * * No claims can be made about cholesterol if the item contains more than 2g saturated fat.


Sodium:

Claims Definition
Sodium Free, Salt Free, Zero Sodium, No Sodium, Without Sodium, Trivial Source of Sodium, Negligible Source of Sodium, Dietarily Insignificant Source of Sodium Less than 5mg sodium per serving.
Low in Sodium, Less Sodium, Contains a Small Amount of Sodium, Low Source of Sodium 140mg sodium or less per serving.
Reduced Sodium, Less Sodium At least 25% less sodium than the original item.

Original food may not be "Low Sodium".
Light in Sodium At least 50% less sodium than the original item.
Very Low Sodium 35mg of sodium or less per serving.
No salt added, Unsalted No additional salt was added to the product during processing.  Must declare "This is Not A Sodium Free Food" on information panel if food is not "Sodium Free".
Lightly Salted 50% less sodium added during processing than normally added to original food item.  If the food is not "Low Sodium", the package must state this fact.

Sugar:

Claims Definition
Sugar Free, Zero Sugar, No Sugar, Without Sugar, Trivial Source of Sugar, Negligible Source of Sugar, Dietarily Insignificant Source of Sugar Less than 0.5g of sugar per serving.
Low Sugar Undefined.
Reduced Sugar, Less Sugar At least 25% less sugar than the original item.
No Sugar Added, Without Added Sugar No sugar or ingredients containing sugar were added during processing.  Must state if food is not "Low Calorie" or "Reduced Calorie".

Items with above health claims but...

High Fat:
If an item with an above health claim contains more than 13g of fat per serving, the label must read "See nutrition facts for fat content."

High Saturated Fat:
If an item with an above health claim contains more than 4g of saturated fat per serving, the label must read "See nutrition facts for saturated fat content."

High Cholesterol:
If an item with an above health claim contains more than 60mg of cholesterol per serving, the label must read "See nutrition facts for cholesterol content."

High Sodium:
If an item with an above health claim contains more than 480mg of sodium per serving, the label must read "See nutrition facts for sodium content."
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