Posts Tagged ‘food labels’

Lately, I have been feeling guilty when I purchase frozen foods.  With the push to eat fresh, fresh ingredients can be even delivered directly to our door through many different meal planning and grocer delivery services. Do you ever wonder how healthy are frozen foods?


Since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5157, March 6 is known as “Frozen Food Day.” We know about the importance of eating fresh, so this proclamation may shock us.  According to the Frozen Food Foundation, frozen fruits and vegetable compare in nutritional value to fresh fruits and vegetables.  This is great news for consumers because it allows us to plan ahead, shop the sales, and  have fruits and vegetables more accessible no matter the season of the year. Don’t forget that according to  the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines for nutrition, half of your plate at each meal should contain fruits and vegetables.

It is important when determining the nutritional value in other frozen foods that you know what you are buying.  Reading food labels will help you determine which nutrients are in each food, and whether they are your healthiest choice.  Remember that reading labels will help you manage your intake of sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, and fat (saturated and trans)as encouraged by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Take a few extra minutes the next time you are in the frozen food aisle so that you can make the healthiest choices for you and your family, and not feel so guilty about the convenience of shopping in the frozen food aisle.

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed By: Candace Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Morrow County


Fruits and Veggies More Matters (r), http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/frozen-produce-is-nutritionally-comparable-to-fresh

United States Department of Agriculture, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm 

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, https://health.gov/news/dietary-guidelines-digital-press-kit/2016/01/top-10-things-you-need-to-know/

National Day Calendar, http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-frozen-food-day-march-6/ 

Photo Credits: https://pixabay.com/en/frozen-food-supermarket-frozen-cold-1336013/

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Do you get confused when you go to the grocery store and look in the meat case? What does fresh, natural, no hormones or antibiotics, organic, or certified really mean? These definitions come from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) which oversee labeling of meat and meat products. The FSIS is responsible for accuracy and truthfulness in labeling of meat and poultry products. Grades of meat are not included in this list as many stores only carry one grade of meat. Different stores may carry different grades of meat, so if you shop more than one store you may find the meat in some stores of higher quality than in other stores.

First, we will look at terms you see on poultry products:
• Fresh means the poultry has never been below 26°F, which is the temperature at which poultry will freeze. Fresh poultry should always have the statement “Keep refrigerated” on the label.
• Never Frozen means the poultry has never been at zero degrees. photo 2
• Natural means it contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed. If natural is used, the label should have a statement as to its meaning.regul
• No Hormones stated on the label is prohibited by law unless it is followed by a statement explaining “Federal ations prohibit the use of hormones.” In other words they can’t use hormones to raise any type of poultry.
• No Antibiotics can be used on the label if the grower provides sufficient documentation to the USDA demonstrating they raised the poultry without antibiotics.
• Cage-Free means the bird was not caged and could roam in a building or enclosed area.
• Free Range whole cooked turkeyor Free Roaming means the producers have provided the USDA with documentation that the poultry was allowed access to the outside.
• Fryer-Roaster Turkey is a young, immature turkey less than 16 weeks of age of either sex.
• Young Turkey is a turkey less than eight months of age of either sex.
• Hen or Tom Turkey designates sex of the turkey. Hen is female, and
tom is male.

Beef and Pork Terms
Fresh red meat cannot have been irradiated or treated with a substance that delays changes in color or with an antimicrobial substance. Fresh has to be a product that has not been canned, cured, dried or chemically preserved.
Grass-Fed meat has to have come from animals that received most of their nutrients from grass during their life-time. This does not limit the use of hormones, antibiotics or pesticides.
• No Added Hormones or Raised without Hormones can be on the label if the producers of the beef products provide sufficient documentation showing no hormones were used in raising the beef animals. Hormones are not allowed by law to be used in raising hogs.
• Certified means the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Agriculture Marketing Service havegrill-beef evaluated a meat product for grade, class or other quality characteristics, such as “Certified Angus Beef.”
• Lean meat has to have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3.5 ounce serving.
• Extra Lean meat cannot have more than 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3.5 ounce serving.
• No Antibiotics or “no antibiotics added’ can be used on a label if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency assuring the animals were raised without antibiotics.
• Natural assures that the meat has only been minimally processed with no artificial ingredients or added color. The label needs to explain the meaning of the term natural, such as “no artificial ingredients.”
• Humane is a word not defined by a USDA definition and not regulated. Verification can vary widely.
• Kosher can only be used on meat products prepared under rabbinical supervision.
• Halal and Zabiah Halal products have been handled according to Islamic law and under Islamic authority.

All these terms can leave us confused and not sure what is the best product for our money. Use this list to make yourself aware of what terms you feel are important for yourself and your family. You may want to write them on your grocery list or make a list on your phone, which you can use at the store when you shop.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

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Grocery store shelfAre you being tricked at the grocery store? Are you sure products you are buying really are as healthy as they claim?

Many consumers are tricked by words on the label and ingredients in food into making choices which cost more money but may not be the healthiest choices. Watch out for these tricks of the trade by companies:

• Companies add vitamins and minerals to junk food or plain water. Thus, junk food appears healthier. Skip expensive waters and drink plain water. If you need vitamins and minerals take a daily vitamin pill.

• Companies use flavorings, colorings and other ingredients to create fake berries or other fruit. Check ingredients to make sure real fruit is in the product.
• Colorings and flavorings are also used in beverage drinks so you will pay more and not realize you are not getting fruit or very little fruit. Read labels to find and buy only 100% juices.

• Monosodiumglutate and hydrolyzed vegetable protein are used so companies can skimp on the real food. These usually help with meaty flavors. Check ingredients to avoid or limit these.

• Transglutaminase (enzyme) allows companies to put some pieces of meat together so it appears as a larger steak. Make sure your steak is one piece of meat.

• Companies want you to drink more soda so they add caffeine as it is mildly addictive. Drink water.

• Carotenoid Colorings such as canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are added to make farmed salmon pinker, so it looks more like expensive wild salmon. Check the ingredients or ask if “wild caught” or “farmed.”

Beware of some words such as “real, fresh, simple, premium and artisanal. “ These words do not have defined meanings in the food industry.

Real conveys the image of no fake or chemical ingredients. However, real doesn’t have to be chemical-free or not be processed food.

Fresh does not have a time period associated with it according to the Food and Drug Administration. Fresh means the food cannot have been frozen or preserved.

Simple can have multiple meanings. We think it means less processed and less ingredients. However, the food can include sugar and fat as part of the ingredients.

Premium is another word that does not have a meaning. It can trick you into thinking you are getting a better product or deal than you are.

Artisanal conveys the image of handcrafted baked goods and cheeses. Many grocery store products labeled “artisanal” are not produced by small-batch producers and may have many ingredients only used by larger producers. Check the ingredient lists.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Wood County


Jacobson, M. [2014]. Food Safety: Learn More about Food Additives with this Helpful Infographic What are additives used for and which should you avoid? Downloaded from Nutrition Action.Com Downloaded at http://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/food-safety/food-safety-learn-more-about-food-additives-with-this-helpful-infographic/?mqsc=E3775989&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=Nutrition_Action_Daily_Tips+Nutrition%20Action%20Daily&utm_campaign=2014.07.19%20Daily%20Tip:%20Food%20Safety

Consumer Reports, [2014]. Consumer Reports: New food label gotchas, Downloaded at http://articles.courant.com/2014-07-12/business/hc-ls-consumer-reports-food-gotchas-20140712_1_new-food-label-consumer-reports-food-packaging

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FoodServingSizesdownload (2)

Many things have changed in the American diet since the Nutrition Facts label was introduced 20 years ago.  The Nutrition Facts Label, introduced in 1993, helps consumers make informed choices and maintain dietary practices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label found on most of the food packages here in the United States.

People today are eating much larger serving sizes than they did years ago.  According to the director of FDA’s Center for Health and Safety and Applied Nutrition, Michael Landa, “Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health concerns.”  The proposed food label changes plan to bring greater attention to serving size requirements and calories. In addition, the proposed changes include requiring information about “added sugars:”   Many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugars because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing caloric intake. Another change proposed is to require manufacturers to declare the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label. Calcium and iron would continue to be required; however, Vitamins A and C would now be included on a voluntary basis.

Food serving sizes will get a reality check. The proposed changes include changing the serving sizes requirements to adequately reflect how people actually eat and drink today. In the U.S., serving sizes have changed since they were introduced 20 years ago. By law, the label information will be based on what a typical person actually eats, and not what they “should” be eating. Serving sizes will be more realistic and reflect how MUCH people eat at one time.  Furthermore since package size affects how much a person eats and drinks, under the proposed changes, food packages will be required to label as one serving the amount that is typically eaten at one time.  Currently, the label states the number of servings in the package.  For example in the future, a 20 ounce soft drink that is typically consumed in one sitting would be labeled as one serving.   So, under the changes, both a 12 and a 20 ounce bottle would equal one serving, since people usually drink the entirety of either of those sizes in one sitting. Calories and serving sizes will be more prominent on the newly proposed label. This is highly important in addressing public health concerns for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease for our nation.

Written by: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension Educator, zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, Ohio State University SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, spires.53@osu.edu

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm




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