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Fix that label.


1. Who should determine the "serving size" listed on the label?

[] manufacturers

[] FDA and USDA

[] no opinion

2. Is three ounces a typical serving of cook meat, fish, or poultry?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

3. Should the word "lean" be allowed only fresh meat and poultry?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

4. Should the USDA require nutrition information for fresh meat and poultry to apply to untrimmed meat and poultry with skin, and allow optional information on trimmed meat and skinned poultry?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

5. Should the USDA allow companies to choose whether label information applies to fresh meat and poultry "as packaged" (raw) or "as consumed" (cooked)?

[] as packaged [] as consumed

[] no opinion

6. Should the FDA allow health claims on candy, soft drinks, lowfat cookies, cakes, and other high-sugar foods?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

7. Should labels list recommended intakes of fat and saturated fat for:

[] the average person?

[] the most vulnerable segment of

the population

[] no opinion

8. Shoudl the FDA lower the recommended intakes of vitamins and minerals?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

9. Should the FDA and USDA allow more fat in a 200-calorie "meat-type" food that's labeled "lowfat" than in other foods that are labeled "lowfat"?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

10. Should the FDA and USDA require labels to tag each nutrient on a food's nutrition label with words like "low," "medium," "high," and "very high"?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

11. Should the FDA allow 2% milk to be called "lowfat" even though it doesn't meet the FDA's new definition of "lowfat"?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion

12. Should the FDA and USDA require nutrition labeling and disclosures on restaurant foods that make claims like "light" or "cholesterol-free"?

[] yes [] no [] no opinion


1. The FDA and USDA want to determine serving sizes, but the food industry is fighting this one tooth-and-nail.

CSPI Position: The FDA and USDA should determine serving sizes.

2. The FDA and USDA say that three ounces of cooked meat, fish, or poultry is typical. But the agencies based that decision on 1985 and 1986 USDA surveys of women and one- to five-year-olds, and another USDA survey (1987-1988) that was flawed, according to the General Accounting Office.

CSPI Position: No. Base serving sizes for fresh meat and poultry on more reliable data from the USDA's 1977-1978 survey, which show that a typical serving is more than three ounces.

3. The USDA's proposal allows "lean" claims on both fresh and processed meat and poultry. The definition of "lean" is much more lenient than the definition of "lowfat." That's okay for fresh meat and pultry, which are too fatty to make "lowfat" claims, but not for processed foods (like frozen dinners), which often are lowfat. The proposal would allow a "lean" claim on a pepperoni pizza while requiring a cheese pizza to meet the tougher standard for "lowfat."

CSPI position: Yes. Allow lean claims only on fresh meat and poultry.

4. This is what the USDA is proposing. But the meat industry is likely to oppose it. The industry's own labeling program uses calorie and fat levels for meat that has been trimmed in a laboratory. Many people don't trim their meat at all, much less like scalpel-wielding technicians. To protect the public, labels should overetimate rather than underestimate the fat in a food.

CSPI Position: Yes. Require labels to disclose nutrition information for untrimmed meat and for poultry with skin.

5. Information for raw meat and poultry is irrelevant... and confusing.

CSPI Position: Require labels to provide information for meat and poultry "as consumed" (cooked).

6. The law prohibits health claims (like "may reduce the risk of cancer") on any food that contains nutrient in an amount that increases the risk of disease. But it's up to the FDA to choose the nutrients and the amounts. So far, it has proposed limits on fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, but not sugar, which causes tooth decay.

CSPI Position: No. Prohibit health claims on high-sugar foods.

7. According to the FDA's proposal, labels would say how much fat and saturated fat are recommended for the average person. This fails to protect major segments of the population. For example, labels would tell women over 50--who have a high risk of heart disease--that they can eat 75 grams of fat and 25 grams of saturated fat a day. Yet health authorities advise them to eat only about 60 grams of fat and 20 grams of saturated fat. Using those numbers wouldn't hurt everyone else.

CSPI Position: Labels should recommend intakes of fat and saturated fat that protected vulnerable people.

8. The FDA has proposed replacing the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (USRDAs) for vitamins and minerals with Daily Values (DVs). The DVs are lower than the USRDAs, partly because they are based on the needs of the "average" person, while the USRDAs were designed to protect the most vulnerable people. DVs are also lower because a National Academy of Sciences panel recently lowered the recommended intakes for some vitamins and minerals. (The panel was more concerned about avoiding deficiencies than with preventing chronic diseases.)

That means that fortified foods (like breakfast cereals) will have smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals, but their labels won't tell you that.

CSPI Position: No. Base DVs on the most vulnerable populations and reconsider the National Academy of Sciences' recommended intakes.

9. The propsals allow more fat in a "meal-type" food than in ordinary foods that are labeled "lowfat." But the FDA says that a "meal-type" food could contain as few as 200 calories--less than a cup of fruit-sweetened yogurt. So a 200-calorie "lowfat" chunky soup could contain nine grams of fat, while a 190-calorie "lowfat" chunky soup could contain only three grams of fat.

CSPI Position: No. Allow no more fat (or cholesterol or saturated fat) in "meal-type" foods than in other foods. Alternatively, make sure that a meal-type food has enough calories--500, perhaps--to make it a meal.

10. The FDA is testing different formats to help people interpret the information on nutrition labels. You can't get much clearer than "low," "high," etc.

CSPI Position: Yes. Choose a format that includes easily understood words like "high," "medium," and "low."

11. A cup of so-called "lowfat" 2% milk has five grams of fat. The FDA says that a "lowfat" food can contain only three grams of fat. The FDA isn't proposing that 2% milk drop the "lowfat" from its name, though, because there is a "standard of identity" for lowfat milk. But the FDA is changing standards for sour cream, butter, and other foods, in part because the food industry wants those changes.

CSPI Position: No. Don't allow 2% milk to be called "lowfat."

12. Congress exempted restaurants from mandatory nutrition labeling. But restaurants that make claims for their foods should ensure that the claims are not misleading.

CSPI Position: Yes. Require the same disclosures for restaurant foods that are required for other foods that make claims.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:food labels
Author:Liebman, Bonnie
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:Eating green.
Next Article:Tough cookies.

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