Food package labels don't tell the whole story
Reading food labels is an important step to eating healthy, but Consumer Reports cautions that what's on the front of the package may not be a good guide to what's inside.
"Some seals of approval are made up by the companies themselves," said Consumer Reports' Lisa Lee Freeman. "And they may pay for other seals that are devised by outside organizations. The end result is very misleading for consumers."
For instance, the latest Fruit Loops has the Smart Choices check mark, even though it's 41 percent sugar by weight.
Trix cereal has a whole-grain guarantee claim. While the cereal does have whole-grain corn, it's not high in fiber.
"You've got to carefully read the nutrition facts on the package. As you'll see with Trix, it has only one gram of fiber per serving. An excellent source has at least five grams," Freeman said.
When a product claims to be a "source of calcium," that means the product only has to supply 10 percent of your daily needs - about a third of a cup of milk.
A can of Hormel chili might claim to have "less sodium." But it still has a lot. Just one cup of the chili has 30 percent of the recommended daily amount of sodium.
"A shortcut to help you judge for yourself is to look at the daily values of things that aren't so good for you - like sodium and saturated fat," Freeman said. "You want to make sure that they're five per cent or less per serving."
One symbol consumers can rely on is the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check.
It's based on Canada's food guide, the latest scientific evidence, nutrition trends, Canadian eating habits and technology.
It's tightening up the rules requiring a cut in maximum allowable sodium of between 25 and 75 per cent by November of next year.
To be sure you're getting more of the good stuff and less of the bad, carefully check out nutrition labels.
Ifyou do opt to buy something that has an unhealthy ingredient with a daily value that's higher than five per cent, plan your other meals around it so you can stay within the recommended guidelines for the day.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen