This is a guest blog post by Carol Harvey, Director of food/nutrition labeling and product development at Palate Works.
Each year, the NASFT trade show (aka Fancy Food Show) brings out another ton of chocolate, cheese, gourmet spices/sauces/pates, cookies and other manner of conspicuous culinary consumption. And each year a few more “healthier” products appear on the scene.
The original plan for this post was to mention 6 products that stood out for great taste and good nutrition from what we saw and tasted at the manufacturers’ booths.
Once back from the show, we tried to gather the nutrition and ingredient information on these products from their websites, since most of the brochures left it out. Amazingly, only one of the six products has nutrition and ingredient info posted online, despite multiple nutrient and health claims on each site (some accurate/allowed and many not).
Note to food manufacturers: It is against labeling regulations to make nutrient or health claims in marketing materials (that includes packaging, ads, web sites, etc.) without showing Nutrition Facts and other substantiation for the claims. The regulation makes sense, otherwise we would be back in the snake oil days.
It’s too bad, because there were some impressive products that might have gotten otherwise-deserved attention.
The one product that did have its data posted (albeit with “enhanced” claims) is an organic cereal from Canada with a very marketing-astute, somewhat visually descriptive name: Holy Crap.
It consists of “ancient whole grain super foods.” In other words, it contains the latest in grain and seed fashion (but not necessarily more nutritious than other grains and seeds): chia seeds, buckwheat and hulled hemp seeds (technically all are seeds, not grains), mixed with dried fruit and cinnamon.
To serve, it simply needs to be soaked 5 minutes in water or milk. That’s great for breakfast when backpacking. Or on the Space Station, to which they have apparently been shipped, at least according to the package. Five minutes is not sufficient to soften the buckwheat groats and make them digestible, however. They’ll still be hard and likely to cause some digestive issues . . . perhaps where the product name comes from?.
Ideally, you should soak the mix for 30+ minutes or simmer in water for 10-15 minutes after boiling.
Actual nutrition pluses:
- No sodium (0)
- Good source of fiber (4 g)
- Good source of iron (10% DV)
- Good balance of fiber, carbs (12 g) and protein (6 g)
Incorrect nutrient claims:
- Sugar-free (it has 3 g; can only say sugar-free if sugar = 0)
- High in iron (10% DV only qualifies as “good source”; “high” requires at least 20% DV)
- Source of calcium (that implies it is at least a good source, which it isn’t at 6% DV)
Unallowed health claims – these would make the product considered a drug, and thus subject to drug labeling/testing requirements:
- Increases concentration
- Stabilizes blood sugar
Hmmm . . . they can send cereal to the Space Station, but . . .
Carol Harvey has been a nutrition labeling and product development consultant for over 15 years. She can be reached at palatemail [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.