FoodFacts knows that reading (and understanding) a foods nutrition label is key to a healthy diet – whether you are counting your calories, increasing your fiber or watching fat intake. After what seems like way too long, you may have finally found your holy grail of healthy foods to replace a high fat, high calorie favorite. Low and behold, a product that is fat free! Before you rejoice, keep reading.
…The ingredients list that is. The ingredients list will give you a better picture of the nutrients in your food. So is there an item on the ingredients list that didn’t end up on the nutrition panel? If you happen to notice “mono and diglycerides” on the list – these are fats. They carry the same amount of energy per gram (9) as a triglyceride (3 fatty acids and a glycerol), yet the food item in question has “0 calories,” and “0 fat.”
Two things are at play here. Number 1 is the definition of a fat. The FDA requires fats to be listed as triglycerides, which mono and diglycerides are not. Number 2 are the labeling laws – if a product has less than 5 calories or less than 0.5g fat per serving , it can be listed as “0.” As an example, let’s say we have cooking spray X that is listed as having “0 calories” and “0 fat” per 1/3 second spray ( I’m not sure about you guys, but we don’t stop spraying at .33 seconds, nor can we operate a stop watch and spray at the same time, but that is our short coming). Further reading shows one of the first ingredients are mono and diglycerides aka oils, aka fats, that are magically fat free. Since we don’t live in a magical world where somehow fat has become fat free, let’s assume that one serving contains 5 calories of fat. That means one seconds worth of spraying has given us 15 calories and approximately 1.7 grams of fat. Let’s say you sprayed for 5 seconds. That would run you 75 calories and 8.3 grams of fat. That is, sadly, not as fat free as the nutrition panel suggests.
However, FoodFacts understands that if we are watching what we eat and we do our homework, then we have a better idea of what we are putting into our bodies. And bravo to us, since that is not always easy!