We see it all the time at the grocery store. FAT FREE! SUGAR FREE! NO TRANS FAT!!
Well, here is a list of examples and meanings of some of the allowable nutrient content claims companies are allowed to use. Just because it says it's "free" doesn't necessarily mean it's so!! Check out some of the claims allowed that just don't measure up:
Sugar Free - less than 0.5 g sugars per serving
Calorie Free - less than 5 kcal per serving
Low Calorie- 40 kcal or less per serving
Fat Free - less than 0.5 g fat per serving
Saturated or Trans Fat Free - less than 0.5 g saturated fat and less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving
Low Fat - 3 g or less per serving
Low Saturated Fat - 1 g or less of saturated fat and less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving
Cholestrol Free - less than 2 mg of cholesterol and 2 g or less of both saturated fat and trans fat
Low Cholestrol - 20 mg or less of cholesterol and 2 g or less of both saturated fat and trans fat
Sodium Free - less than 5 mg sodium per serving
Low Sodium - 140 mg or less per serving
Very Low Sodium - 35 mg or less per serving
Lean Meat or Poultry - less than 10 g total fat, less than 4.5 saturated and trans fat combined, and less than 95 mg cholestrol per serving and per 100 g for individual foods
Extra Lean Meat or Poultry - less than 5 g total fat, less than 2 g saturated and trans fat combined, and less than 95 mg cholestrol per serving and per 100 g for individual foods
High, Rich In - 20% or more of the Daily Value to describe protein, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, or potassium per serving
Good Source Of - 10% to 19% or more of Daily Value per serving
More, Added - contains a nutrient that is at least 10% of Daily Value more than the reference food, regardless of whether the food is altered (fortified or enriched)
Light, Lite - one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food; if the food derives 50% or more of its calories from fat, the reduction must be 50% of the fat; can also mean that sodium content has been reduced by at least 50%
(Reference: Lee, Robert D. and Nieman, David C. (2010) Nutritional Assessment, Fifth Ed. (p. 25); New York, NY; McGraw-Hill)
So there you go! Free isn't always free, and it doesn't always mean it's better for you!
Happy Label Checking Folks!!