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Label Libel: Nutrition Fact or Fiction?

Posted Jun 01 2009 10:31pm

by Megan Weinberg

Jones-ing for a less guilt-inducing sweet snack the other day, I mindlessly grabbed the Klondike “100 Calorie” ice cream bars on sale without paying attention to the nutrition labeling on the back. The pictures of ice cream enrobed in chocolate with the low-cal promise were good enough for me (see Exhibit A). Later that night, I dashed to the freezer to enjoy a treat. Now, since I had more time, I turned over the box to see what I was about to consume. What I saw perplexed me greatly, and fueled my growing frustration over misleading and confusing labeling.

At first, I was surprised at the serving size of two bars. That would make your calorie consumption “200 Calories” now, wouldn’t it? So it’s a 100 Calorie treat, if you eat half of one serving. Interesting. This prompted me to read more. The Nutrition Facts (see Exhibit B) were laid out side by side for a comparison of a two bar serving versus a one bar serving. That was nice of Klondike to do the math for me. Should make my search for information easier, right? Wrong. Take a look at the labeling. Note that in many cases, the numbers just don’t add up. For example, if you eat one English Toffee bar, 60 of your calories come from fat. But, if you eat two of them, 110 come from fat. Same with total fat: one bar= six grams of fat, while two bars = 13 grams. Even funnier, if I eat two English Toffee bars, I’m consuming the SAME amount of cholesterol as if I ate one. Why NOT eat two?!?! If you keep looking, you’ll find more of these blunders. To make matters worse, if you go to the website and check out this product, the Nutrition Facts are different there than on the packaging for both French Vanilla and English Toffee varieties. For example, the Serving Size according to the website is one bar (not two), and while the English Toffee flavor has 60 calories from fat on the packaging, it has only 50 from fat on the website. I’ll take the website version, please.

I don’t want to belabor a point. I know that some might argue I’m making a big deal out of something insignificant. But, to me, this is just one more layer of confusion in an already perplexing world of labels and nutrition facts. If the makers of these products don’t quite know what’s in them, how is the consumer supposed to know? Some might also argue that I buy at my own risk and I chose to consume this product, so why pick it apart? True. Everybody knows this is a processed treat, so what should I expect? Also true. Lesson learned. Maybe all of my reading of labels isn’t doing me any good. In the end, I guess it’s just better to make a snack myself, if you factor in the time it took me to read and decode the nutrition “facts”.

Exhibit A                                                               Exhibit B               
Klondike front of box              Klondike Nutrition Facts

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