I don’t know about you, but I have never questioned nutrition labels before. Call me naive but I always trusted what was stated on the label was true. Didn’t we all? ….
Luckily, we have a governing body called the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) that does this for us.
They follow strict compliance testing to see if the products contain what they claim to. The tests everything from: vitamins & minerals, salt content, the caloric breakdown among the macronutrients compositions, and overall calories. This is great for the consumer; knowing what they’re consuming is relatively accurate, the key word being relative. Surprisingly, the CFIA allows up to 20% variance from the reported label claims to what’s actually in the product. So, if a packaged good claimed to have 150 cals in a can of beans, you could be eating up to 180 cals or more. With this much allowance, I highly doubt many companies (if any at all) will be 100% accurate with their labelled information.
In fact, in a large testing group done between 2006-2010, over 16% of products were unsatisfactory (exceeding the 20% cut-off variance). 169 products were tested that ranged from baked goods, foods from supermarkets & restaurants. The brands that failed were significantly skewed in terms of sodium and calories content.
Many big name brands like: Kraft, Frito Lay, Heinz failed. Even the healthier alternatives like: Eden’s Organic, Amy’s Kitchen, Kashi, Yves Veggies Cuisine didn’t fare too well. In fact, of the 40 products mis-claiming vitamin content, Yves Veggie Cuisine Ground Round was grossly exaggerated; claimed to have 80% Vitamin A content when actually they just had 3%. Even Canadian brands like BC’s Sun Rype & Quebec’s Aliments Fontaine Sante inaccurately labelled their goods.
Knowing this is a cause for concern and should encourage us to cook and prepare most if not all of our food. And it’s not just from a calorie consumption standpoint, but when large manufacturers market products to sell their goods by falsifying the vitamins or nutrient profiles, why would we want to support companies like that.
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