We always get a kick when we read nutrition labels and discover how manufacturers trick us into believing their product is manna from heaven. A great example is tiny the serving sizes for foods of problematic nutritional value. By decreasing the portion size to 3 year old consumption standards, the calorie count in junk food seems decent.
In real life, most of us eat slightly more than toddlers, and therefore the serving sizes need to reflect true consumption. Here are some examples of bogus serving sizes from a recent trip to the supermarket. Please add your sighting in the comments section.
Campbell’s Chunky Fully Loaded soup. The 19 oz can boasts “When you’ve got extreme hunger, go for the black can.” Well, it should say go for half a black can, because there are 2 servings in there. While a single serving is only 300 calories, wolfing down a whole can will cost you 600 calories, 1860 mg of sodium (over 75% of your daily maximum), and 22 grams of sugar (over 5 teaspoons).
Oreo Cookies. A delicious American classic from Nabisco. Each serving is only 160 calories. An 18 oz package claims to house 15 servings of…3 cookies each. Name one person who stops at 3 Oreos. Now think about the number of cookies you consume while snacking. 6? 10? you’ve upped your to almost a qurater of your daily intake for what is basically sugar, oil, flour, and additives.
Honey Nut Cheerios. Another classic. If you’ve ever tried to measure a 3/4 cup serving size, you’d notice that is a smaller portion that what you normally consume. Go ahead, add 50% to the 110 calories and 9 grams of sugar you thought you were getting.
Tazo Giant Peach Tea. A 13.8 oz bottle seems just about the right size drink for a hot summer day. It’s 90 calories and 20(!) grams of sugar per serving, but you’d have to stop drinking halfway, because the bottle contains 2 servings. Everyone gulps down the entire bottle, so why mislead the consumer? By the way, the 40 grams of sugar in the bottle are the equivalent of 10 teaspoons!
Lays Classic Potato Chips. An 11 oz bag boasts 11 servings, each with 10 grams of fat, 180mg of sodium, and clocking in at 150 calories. Lay’s defines a serving as 15 chips, but hey who’s counting. Many people polish off an entire bag with a friend or two. The real serving size is therefore at least twice as high. That works out to 300 calories and 20 grams of fat (a third of a day’s maximum).
We could go on and on, but you get the picture.
What to do at the supermarket:
If you are counting calories or sodium or whatever, make sure to inspect the serving size listed on food packages to make sure they match your expectations. If not, you’ll have to calculate adjustments.
Help us test our new food comparison tool: alpha.fooducate.com