Can you answer these question:
What is better a “natural” product or “organic” one?
What is better “cage-free” eggs or “vegetarian fed”?
It can be very confusing these days with all the different lingo on front of packages, therefore it is good to stay informed and know exactly what you are buying. A good point to look at is while health claims on food labeling is on a rise, why is obesity still on the rise???? YOU SHOULD BE SKEPTICAL of food claims on the front of packaging. Food marketing is a 4 billion dollar industry. FACT people typically eat 44% more of the product if there is a health claim on the front label. If the front of a package needs to convince you of the healthfulness of its contents, there is a good change its contents aren’t healthful. So what to do:.
- Shop on the outside parameters of the store, and less in the packaged food isles.
- Turn the box over and read the nutrition facts and ingredients list.
- Be informed as to what common labeling means.
Orangic vs Natural
* For processed foods, this term is not regulated by FDA and is meaningless.
* When it comes to meat, poultry and eggs it is regulated by USDA and means that they are minimally processed and no artificial ingredients. This does however NOT regulate use of antibiotics or hormones.
* There is no set standards for seafood.
* For meat, poultry and eggs, they are produced with no hormones or antibiotics, animals graze in pastures, and use 100% organic feed. NOTE organic has nothing to do with the nutritional content of a food (ex an organic apple vs non-organic apple has the same amount of calories).
* For produce organic means grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizer made with manufactured components, bioengineered or ionizing radiation.
* for term “Organic” must be at least 95% organic ingredients
* for term “Made with organic” must be at least 70% ingredients organic.
Lowfat, reduced fat, fat free:
* Fat free contain less than 0.5 g serving
* Low fat less than 3 g serving
* Reduced fat 25% less fat than original.
NOTE just because its fat free doesn’t mean free of calories. In fact some are higher in calories because of add in sugar and grains to taste better.
Grass fed: Animals that are only ever fed mothers milk and grazed on grass, hay , or greens. Also must have access to pasture during growing seasons. DOES NOT indicate use of antibiotic, pesticides, or hormones.
Free range: Poultry was provided shelter and unlimited access to food, fresh water, and outdoors thru production cycle. No limitations to quality or size or duration to access.
Cage-free: Indicates poultry could freely roam in an indoor or enclose are with unlimited access to food and fresh water. No indication of outdoor access or overcrowded conditions.
No Antibiotics Added: May be used on labels if the produce provides sufficient supporting documentation but there is no system in place to verify claims of this type.
NOTE term “antibiotic free” has no regulations!
No Added Hormones: Used on pork and poultry however hormones are simply not allowed in raising of any hogs, poultry or goats, therefore the claim cannot be used on labels of products for these animals unless it is followed by the words ‘federal regulations prohibited the use of hormones. (Sooo what’s the point, except try and convince you its healthier)
No Hormones Administered: Term is used on beef and diary if producer provides sufficient documentation that no hormones have been used in raising animals.
Highest pesticide content. buy these organic:
- bell peppers
- green beans
- imported grapes
These have the lowest pesticide content. safe to buy non-organic:
- sweet potatoes
Estelle L. Benoit, RDN, LDN