Low Fat Yogurt Food Label (UK)

They Are Trying To Deceive You

Food Labels & Clever Marketing Tricks 

Firstly let me apologize for not updating the FLC blog in the last 2 weeks. I’ve been working on a few things behind the scenes. I’ve come up with a few new ideas to help you guys on your fat loss efforts, and you’ll be seeing me rolling a few things out in the few weeks and months – so keep your eyes peeled for my emails.

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve started new sessions in the local schools. So it’s been early mornings and late evenings!

These sessions are all based around making healthy food choices, reading food labels, creating healthy nutrition plans and on the last session they will have the chance to cook their own food with the clubs very own chefs.

I go in and deliver 6 sessions to different schools over a 6 week period – the first hour we talk about all things nutrition, and the second hour I take them all outside (or inside as the weather here in London has been terrible the last few weeks!) and deliver and hour of physical activity.

At first, I thought I would have to break everything down into small sized chunks for the kids to understand, and while what we are talking about it relatively basic stuff in the nutrition world, I was pleasantly surprised  at what the kids already knew.

I underestimated the kids!

They knew a lot more than I thought they did – yet there were still a few little’ens that were clearly overweight.

Why?

That’s where you and I come in.

Please note, I will where appropriate state where information might vary due to different national laws. I live in UK so some of the information in this post may not apply to you. However, where possible I have given the information for those in the USA.

Also, there are shady food companies looking to TRICK you into buying their product no matter what country you live in – more on that below.

Understanding Food Labels

There are a few things that must be presented on foods labels by law. Now these laws do differ slightly depending on what country you’re in.

If you’re looking to touch up on the food laws in your country you can do a simple Google search for ‘Food Standard Agency ***Your Country***’

UK Food Standard Agency

USA Food Standard Agency

Every food label will have all or most of the following information on;

a)      Name of product

b)      Weight of product

c)       Sell by date

d)      Storage instructions

e)      Cooking instructions

f)       Where it was produced

a)      Nutrition content

b)      Ingredients

c)       Serving Size

Now while all of this information is important – some are more important than others.

Nutritional Information on Food Labels

Low Fat Yogurt Food Label (UK)

Picture (take from Wikipedia) shows the nutrition information taken from a low fat yogurt

All food labels SHOULD have the nutrition content clearly stated on the packaging. The ingredients section is listed in order of highest content to lowest, while the nutrition information is listed a little bit differently.

The nutrition content on the packaging will be displayed a little differently depending on what country you’re from but here in the UK it normally follows this format;

Typical Values

By law here in the UK they must present the information per 100g. Some food manufactures however, will give the typical value in relation to how much the product weighs as well.

Energy

This information is presented in both KJ (kilo joules) and kcal (calories)

Protein

Protein is presented in grams.

Carbohydrates

Under this section you will find the sugar content as well ‘of which sugars…’ Starch content is also sometimes given. Content is presented in grams. – Companies can TRICK you here, more on that in a minute. 

Fat

Saturated fat by law must be presented in this section.  However some companies like to give their customer the concentration of healthy fats as well – Funnily enough you’ll tend to only ever find this info on healthy foods. Fat is also written in grams.

Fibre

Again, presented in grams.

Salt

More and more often you’ll see ‘sodium’ listed underneath the salt section.

In The USA

Burger Food Label USA

This picture (taken from eatrightontario.ca) shows the nutrition information for a burger

Food labels in the USA are slightly different. While some things are the same, companies are required to include 1 very important piece of information that is NOT required in the UK – Trans Fat.

Trans fat is the big nasty evil fat you need to stay away from. Why UK companies aren’t required to present this in the 21st century is beyond me – but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before this changes.

You’d think with the obesity numbers rising in the western world at a rapid pace the Government would be doing everything they possibly could to reduce the numbers.

The other nutritional value that it not included on UK packaging is cholesterol.  Here’s an example of a nutrition label from the USA;

 

If you’re not from the UK or USA and would like to get the basics in your country Wikipedia have a great little article here.

Food Label Regulations

In the UK all of the above should be displayed on every food label – but it isn’t always like that. Of course if you go into local supermarket then they SHOULD be following the rules, however if you take a quick look in most of our corner shops, you’ll soon notice that the rules are quickly broken.

Many times I’ve stopped off a corner shop to pick up a packet of Almonds only to find there is NO nutritional information on the packet what so ever, and if you take a few minutes to look at other things the shop are selling you’ll notice that none of the foods that are big brand names have provided the nutrition and ingredient information – and nine times out of ten these foods seem to have been produced and packages in foreign countries.

Not sure how much of this is known by the Government, but you can bet your house on it they know this kind of stuff is going on.

How To Read Food Labels For Kids

Educating our kids is the foundation for healthier nations, and that’s why I’m doing these healthy eating sessions in schools.

All children should be taught the basics of food labels.

In our second session, I bring in a box of food packaging for the class. We have a class discussion on what we find on food labels. I then hand out all the food packaging. The children will then have to write down all the nutritional information and make a decision on whether they think it’s healthy or not.

But as the quickly learn, not all food packaging is exactly what it seems…

Clever Marketing tricks:

I’ve written about this briefly before, and I think it’s vital that everyone should know about it – some food s are clearly unhealthy and some are clearly healthy, however some are hidden.

Take the picture I showed you above.

 

Low Fat Yogurt Food Label (UK)

The packaging is that of a low-fat yogurt. (Taken from Wikipedia) Now while the yogurt is relatively low in fat is extremely high in sugar. Consume too many of these yogurts and you’ll be storing that sugar and fat.

No Sugar?! Look at the ingredients!

On the other side of the scale, some foods will state in the nutrition section that there are no sugars contained in the product. So on first inspection the food may look relatively healthy, however if you dig down a little deeper you’ll find that it may actually contain sugar after all.

To find out whether the product contains any sugar substitutes take a look in the ingredients section. Words like fructose, glucose, sucrose and HFCS are things we should be looking for. There’s a great article on TheDailyGreen.com that explains all this in a little more detail.

All in all…..

As you can see things do tend to vary a little from country to country, but the basics do seem to be evident across the board.

Every time I pick something up off the shelf, I’ll check the nutrition label. It’s second nature to me now – and what I find is I am constantly reminded how many companies are actually trying to deceive us.

Knowing how to read nutrition labels will be one of the first steps you should take when trying to make healthy options.

This guide should help you in understanding food labels, food regulations, how important it is too teach our kids how to read food labels and also highlight the fact that not all companies and food labels may be exactly what they say they are.

If you have time next time you go shopping, pick up two different brands of the same food and compare them – you might VERY surprised at what you see!

Until next time,

Take Care, Keep Focused and DON’T BE TRICKED!

Chris Sherlock

Certified Personal Trainer

FatLossClassroom.com

2 Comments

  • elvie

    Reply Reply March 12, 2014

    Great post – comes just in time as I was wondering about this the other day.

    Thanks!

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