all started with a can of refried beans," a reader
writes. "The nutrition label said a serving size was 1/2
cup and "about 3.5 servings" per container, which
should be "about" 1.75 cups total in the can. I
measured out servings and realized there were exactly 3
servings, or 1.5 cups in the can.
time I indulged in refried’s, same thing — exactly 1.5
cups, or 3 servings, of beans. Now I’ve become a bit
obsessive and have found the same thing with every food I buy
that has the qualifier "about" as part of the
servings/container. And the "about" is never more,
it is consistently less.
then should I calculate the nutritional values? If the label
says there are 100 calories/serving, a serving is 0.5 cup, and
there are "about" 3.5 servings in the can, are there
350 calories in the can or — since there are really only 3
servings in the can — are there 300 calories in the can?
grumpy old lady question is, who oversees what is put on these
labels? And how is it legit for food companies to consistently
over-report the nutritional values in the container?"
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the regulations
that dictate what manufacturers put on food labels. Food
companies are required to declare serving sizes in household
measures — such as "cups" — in addition to the
food’s actual weight in grams (g). And serving sizes for
specific products must adhere to FDAs list of
"Recommended Amounts Customarily Consumed" (RACC).
like refried beans with 2 to 5 servings per can must be
rounded up to the nearest one-half cup for example, while
products with more than 5 servings per container must be
rounded up to the nearest one cup. Thus, servings in a
package, as per FDA rules, are not always exact but
Manufacturer finds in the FDA regulations that 130 grams (g)
is the RACC for refried beans.
then determine the household measure of his beans that weighs
130 grams. Let’s say it’s 1/3 cup.
required serving size for this type of product must be listed
in 1/2 cup increments that weigh as close to 130 grams as
Mr. Bean maker must round the 1/3 cup that weighs 130 grams up
to 1/2 cup for the food label. And he must also list on the
label the actual weight (in grams) of this 1/2 cup, which may
be more or less than 130 grams. (This even makes me feel
most accurate number to figure actual serving sizes then, is
the weight of the serving, not the household
measure. BTW, the name and address of the manufacturer
must also be listed on the food label if you have questions
about a specific product.
we’re not confused enough, food label regulations are
currently being revised. Stay tuned…