Made with for a healthy lifestyle

Understanding Food Labels: Where it all started

The “Nutrition Facts” label is the go-to place on a food package for most of the nutritional information you need to plan a healthful diet.  But just like cell phones and GPS and other items we use every day, it hasn’t always been there.  So who created the Nutrition Facts label, what information does it provide, and what information does it lack?

The Nutrition Facts label was mandated for most food products under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990.  The law gives the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to require nutrition labeling of foods regulated by the agency.  It also requires that nutrition claims, such as high fiber and low fat, meets FDA regulations.

Almost every food must bear the Nutrition Facts label and the information presented must be consistent.  However, there are some exceptions to the rules.

  • Foods that contribute very few nutrients, such as plain coffee, tea, and spices are not required to provide nutritional information.
  • Foods produced by small businesses or foods produced and sold in the same establishment do not carry the label.
  • Very small packages (less than 12 square inches in total surface area) may instead provide contact information on where to find the Nutrition Facts.

Every food label must prominently display and express the following information in ordinary words:

  • The common or usual name of the product
  • The name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
  • The net contents in terms of weight, measure or count
  • The ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight
  • The serving size and number of servings per container
  • The quantities of these specific nutrients:  calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat (as of 2006), cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, Calcium and iron.

Labels must also give information about how certain nutrients fit into an overall dietary plan, such as less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol is recommended for someone consuming a 2,000 calorie diet.

For more on the requirements of the Nutrition Facts label, visit for an exhaustive list of rules and regulations.

Recalled Food List for the Week of June 25th

Pure Base Distribution Recalls Garlic Spread

Pure Base Distribution LLC of Ontario is recalling its 4-ounce bottles of “Pure Base Garlic Spread-Concentrate” and 7-ounce bottles of “Pure Base Garlic Spread – Ready to Spread” items because they may contain undeclared milk and wheat.  These were distributed nationwide in online and traditional retail stores.

Product lot numbers and “Best By” dates can be found at the FDA link above.  Consumers are urged to return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund or contact the company at 1-888-980-7474 ext 105 Monday through Friday 9AM to 4PM Pacific Standard Time.

INZ Recalls Magic Power Coffee Dietary Supplement

INZ Distributors of Brooklyn NY has recalled a dietary supplement product sold nationwide under the name Magic Power Coffee.  A lab analysis of one lot found that the product contains undeclared hydroxythiohomosildenafil, an FDA-approved drug used for the treatment of male Erectile Dysfunction (ED).

Magic Power Coffee is distributed nationwide on Internet sites and online auctions by multiple independent distributors.  It is sold in a 2-serving box with UPC 718122686872 and a 12-serving carton containing six 2-serving boxes with UPC 718122686773.   All production dates up until 05/08/2010 are being recalled.

More information can also be found here.

Kellogg Company Recalls Select Packages of Children’s Cereals

The Kellogg Company implemented a voluntary recall of certain breakfast cereals due to an uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner in the package.  Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops, and Honey Smacks cereals are affected only if they have the letters KN following the “Better If Used Before” Date on the package.  A full list of UPC codes for the cereals can be found at the link above.

Those with questions or who would like a replacement may contact the Kellogg Consumer Response Center at 888-801-4163 from 8 am to 8 pm Eastern time.  More information can also be found here.

Lancaster Foods Recalls Fresh Spinach

Lancaster Foods LLC of Jessup MD is voluntarily recalling fresh Spinach sold under the brand names krisp-Pak, Lancaster Fresh, Giant, and America’s Choice because they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall extends only t products with a “Best Enjoyed By” date of 19 JUN 10 through 27 JUN 10 and sold in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Consumers who may have potentially affected product are asked to empty the contents of the package into your garbage, save the package, and contact a Lancaster Foods, LLC consumer representative toll-free at (800) 247-8125 between the hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

For more information about US Food and Drug Administration Recalls, or to receive your own RSS feed, visit

Bits and Bites for June 24, 2010

“Bits and Bites” features some of today’s food and nutrition related news and tips from around the world.

WebMD Healthy Recipe Newsletter

Instead of flipping through cookbooks or searching the web, do you want advice and guidance on healthy recipes to appear in your inbox?  Sign up for WebMD’s “Healthy Recipes” Newsletter.  While you are there, pick out more topics that you’d like information on, such as “Weight Loss Wisdom” or “Fitness”.

More on WebMD:  Obesity After Age 50 Raises Diabetes Risk

Not really new news, but emphasizes how important a healthy diet and exercise plan are to prevent chronic disease later in life, including both diabetes and cancer.   Try incorporating the principles of a Mediterranean Diet into your everyday meal plans.

NPR:  Hospital Food Goes Organic

When you visit a loved one in the hospital, have you ever noticed that the cafeteria is not exactly the best place for healthy food?  John Muir Medical Center in Concord CA (near San Francisco) is changing that by offering locally grown and organic foods.

Breast is Best:  Six Months of Breast Milk Gives Babies Immune Boost

The World Health Organization recommends that new mothers exclusively breast feed their children for the first six months of life.  But even if that isn’t in the cards for you, breastfeeding as long as possible brings many health benefits to both mom and baby. .

Summer Reading: 5 Good Books About Healthy Eating

Do you have a vacation planned this summer?  Hopefully you will use the time to truly relax and spend time with your family and friends (Leave the BlackBerry home!!)  I like spending my down time on vacation with a good book – crime novels are my favorite.  However, you can also use the extra time to browse some great books that focus on healthy eating so that you will be ready to resume your diet plan after you return.

Hungry Girl Happy Hour:  75 Recipes for Amazingly Fantastic Guilt-Free Cocktails and Party Foods

In just about everything I write, I recommend “Hungry Girl” books.  I just love the way Lisa Lillen takes simple, easily available foods and turns them into healthy meals and snacks.  Her new book, while not one that you will sit on the beach and read from cover to cover, is a vacation must for creating lower calorie mixed drinks.  Alcoholic beverages contribute more calories than you think, especially some of the frozen drinks that are popular on hot days.  Use this guide to help create some cocktails that will not add on the pounds.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

I highly recommend this book for anyone contemplating a vegetarian lifestyle or if you have an interest in the real impact of factory farming.  At times very disturbing, it has changed the way I will eat forever.  Eating Animals is also a book that you can read in chunks, which makes it great for vacation reading time.

Skinny Bitch:  A No-Nonsense Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous

Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin have written a no-holds-barred “wakeup call” to women who want to start eating better for both health and looks.  They promote a vegan diet based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  Most customers find this a very easy and motivating read.

Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth

Registered dietitians, such as myself, have long known of Geneen Roth’s work in the area of emotional eating.  Her latest edition, featured prominently on Oprah, focuses on one’s core beliefs about the food we eat in order to get to the center of the reason why we overeat.  After reading this, you may also be interested in Geneen’s other books, such as “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating” or “When Food is Love”.

Real Food Has Curves by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

What did you have for dinner last night?  Did it come from a box or a can?  Much research today is focusing on the American diet that is full of convenience foods that are loaded up with sodium and preservatives.  Real Food Has Curves is a guide for getting off processed foods by offering the reader seven simple steps to learn how to be a better shopper for healthy foods to cook for the entire family.

(Note:  The links to the books above are to Barnes & Noble, but I do not have any affiliation with that company.  Also, many of the books are available on B&N’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle, which both have lowered their prices for the summer so enjoy!)

Recalled Food List for the Week of June 18th

Rich Products Recalls Allen Bavarian Crème Filling

Rich Products Corporation of Buffalo NY recalled its Allen Bavarian Crème Filling (product code 02881) with production codes 11870137F21, F-22, F-23, F-24, F-25 because they may contain multiple undeclared allergens – pecans, milk and coconut.  The pail size is 3.5 gallons and weighs 31.0 pounds.  The filling is not packaged for retail distribution, but is sold to foodservice distributors and in-store bakeries nationwide.  The company has already notified all of its distributors and customers who have received the products in question, but those with concerns may contact Rich’s Product Helpline at 1-800-356-7094 in the US or 1-800-263-8174 in Canada.

Portland Shellfish Company Recalls Lobster Meat

Portland Shellfish Company Inc is voluntarily recalling the following brands of cooked, ready-to-eat fresh or frozen lobster meat:  Portland Shellfish Co. Inc brand, Claw island, Craig’s All Natural, and Inland Ocean cooked, fresh or frozen lobster claw and knuckle meat.  Tests indicate the product has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious infection, particularly in those with weakened or immature immune systems.

The products were distributed nationwide in wholesale and retail stores.  Consumers can visit the link above for specific lot numbers or contact the company at 207-699-5505 for questions.

Update: Portland Shellfish Company expanded the recall on June 18th to also include Meat Without Feet private label food service 2-pound bags of frozen lobster claw and knuckle meat (Lot 13310).

Bimbo Bakeries USA Recalls Soft White Bread

Bimbo Bakeries USA of Horsham PA is recalling its 1 pound 4 ounce (567 grams) Soft White Bread product sold in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington because it may contain undeclared milk.  People with a milk allergy who consume the product may risk a life-threatening or serious allergic reaction.

The product has a red band of color above the clear bag window on the front of the bread bag and square lock tab closures in the colors and dates as follows:

  • white tab – 6/14 or 6/21
  • blue tab – 6/15
  • tan tab – 6/17
  • green tab – 6/18
  • red tab – 6/20

Consumers can return the product to its place of purchase for a full refund or contact the company at 1-800-984-0989.

For more information about US Food and Drug Administration Recalls, or to receive your own RSS feed, visit

Recalled Food List for the Week of June 11th

Sirob Imports Issues Alert on Strawberry Farms Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sirob Imports of Lindenhurst NY is recalling 16-ounce vacuum packed bags of Strawberry Farm Sun Dried Tomatoes because they contain undeclared sulfites.  These were distributed in Queens NY to a retail store.

The consumption of 10 milligrams of sulfite per serving has been reported to elicit severe reactions in some asthmatics, and an analysis of the product revealed they contained 197 milligrams per 4 oz serving.

Consumers with questions can call the company at 631-957-8888.

Kroger Recalls Select Containers of Deluxe Chocolate Paradise Ice Cream

The Kroger Company recalled select 48-ounce containers of Deluxe Chocolate Paradise Ice Cream sold in 17 states:  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.  The recall also includes Jay C, Food 4 Less, Hilander, Owen’s, Pay Less and Scott’s stores in Illinois and Indiana

Tree nuts are not listed on the label, and those who are allergic could have a serious or life-threatening reaction if they consume this product.  The ice cream has a sell-by date of Jan 24 11 and the UPC Code 11110 50712.

Consumers who have questions can call Kroger toll-free at 800-632-6900 or visit

For more information about US Food and Drug Administration Recalls, or to receive your own RSS feed, visit .

What’s In Season: Watermelon

Nothing says summer like having a big juicy watermelon for dessert after an evening cook-out!  And, yes.  The watermelon has its name for a very good reason – it’s 92% water.  Refreshing on a hot day!

The watermelon was actually first harvested in Egypt 5,000 years ago and is now grown in 96 different countries.  It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and related to the cantaloupe, squash, and pumpkin.  Even though we most often think of the fruit as being deep red in color, there are also other varieties that have orange, yellow, or white flesh.

Watermelon is definitely an excellent addition to a healthy diet.  They are fat free and a serving (1 wedge equals about 1-2/3 cups) is only about 90 calories.  Nutritionally, watermelons are rich in vitamins A and C and high in the mineral potassium.  Vitamin A is important for optimal eye health and may help prevent night-blindness.  It has also been shown to boost immunity by enhancing infection-fighting actions of the white blood cells.  Vitamin C is also good for the immune system and also is a good antioxidant to protect the body from free radicals that can accelerate aging and conditions such as cataracts.  Potassium is an important mineral for water balance inside the body’s cells.  It is also essential for heart function, and can help lower blood pressure.

Watermelon is also very high in the antioxidant lycopene.  Watermelon is second only to tomatoes in lycopene content.  Lycopene has been studied extensively for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties, particularly prostate cancer.  A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has also found that those whose blood levels were low in lycopene were more susceptible for colon polyps, a precursor for colon cancer.  Another study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that men who consumed a lycopene-rich diet were half as likely to suffer a heart attack as those who had little or no lycopene in their diets.

More recent studies have found watermelon to be high in the amino acid citrulline.  The body uses citrulline to make another important amino acid called arginine.  This protein building-block plays a key role in wound healing and the removal of ammonia from the body.  It may also have a positive impact on cardiovascular health by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood pressure readings.

When choosing a watermelon at the store, choose one that is symmetrical with dried stems and yellowish undersides (if it doesn’t have this, it may have been picked prematurely).  The skin should neither be overly shiny or overly dull.  Pick it up – it should feel heavy for its size.

At home, you can store a whole, uncut watermelon at room temperature, or cut it into chunks and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  Remember to wash the skin before cutting into the flesh to prevent any pesticide residue from contaminating the fruit.

Watermelon is a very versatile fruit.  You can cut it up into slices, process in a blender or food processor until smooth, press through a fine sieve to discard seeds and pulp, and drink it as a juice or add to a smoothie.  Use a melon baller to make a pretty addition to a fruit salad.  It even works great in a salsa.  Puree watermelon, cantaloupe, and kiwi together and serve as a refreshing cold soup with a dab of plain yogurt on top.

For more recipes, see the Watermelon Promotion Board or the University of Illinois Extension websites.  Woman’s Day magazine also offers “7 Ways with Watermelon“.

Bits and Bites for June 5, 2010

“Bits and Bites” features some of today’s food and nutrition related news and tips from around the world.

How a Vegetable –Rich Diet Lowers Blood Pressure (Johns Hopkins Health Alerts)

The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has been clinically shown to reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension.  The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy.  A British study reported in the journal Hypertension shows how a diet rich in produce can improve your stats.

The Secret to Lifelong Weight Maintenance (WebMD)

Pamela Peek MD is a well-known, well-respected wellness expert.  In this article, she doesn’t tell you what to eat and what to do, but offers excellent advice on how to “stick with it” for long-term weight loss success.

How to Stop Eating Processed Foods (Washington Post)

Have you read “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan yet?  Rule number one:  Eat food.  Not processed, preservative-filled junk.  Jennifer LaRue Huget offers advice on how to stop eating processed foods, based on information from another great book “Real Food Has Curves”, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

Mercury-Laden Fish Present Danger to Californians (Eat, Drink and Be)

Mercury contamination is a health risk factor, particularly in children and pregnant women.  Certain types of fish are known to be high in mercury, such as swordfish and King mackerel.  The State Water Resources Control Board analyzed mercury content in California waterways and found many to have fish with mercury concentrations higher than the level safe for human consumption.

Low Calorie Salad Recipes (Women’s Health Magazine)

Late spring and early summer are perfect for salads because so many vegetables are in their peak seasons.  Women’s Health Magazine offers six yummy summer salad recipes to break you out of the iceberg-lettuce-and-tomato rut. . Alfreebkinggoldte .