This is a guest blog post by Richard Perlmutter, MS
Last year Kozy Shack Company changed the recipe for its chocolate pudding. At the same time the company revised much of the labeling on the pudding container. lt is both interesting and instructive to point out the changes, and the reasons for the changes.
The single most significant recipe change was switching from whole milk to reduced fat milk. The fat content per serving went down from 3.59 to 2.59. Surprisingly, this decrease is not noted in the revised description of the pudding. lt appears that Kozy Shack does not want to alert its customers of the change, even though consumer preference has shifted to lower fat dairy products.
NO LONGER CLAIMING TO BE ‘ALL NATURAL’
The former packaging made the statement ‘all natural ingredients’. The pudding was (and continues to be) thickened with modified tapioca starch, which is not a natural ingredient. Some food companies have been sued over dubious use of ‘all natural’. Others have been threatened with lawsuits, Kozy Shack is now more cautious. The new labeling completely avoids use the words ‘natural’ or ‘naturally’.
Two ingredient claims were added to the front panel of the packaging - ’Good Source of Calcium’ and ‘Gluten Free’. The pudding was also a good source of calcium prior to reformulation. ln Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Iegalese, ‘good source’ means a serving has from ten to twenty percent of the Daily Value of a nutrient. The pudding has 15 percent of the Daily Value for calcium.
On the former packaging ‘Gluten Free’ appeared in small letters below the list of ingredients. Over the last few years the presence of gluten has become a major issue in the diet of many people. Acknowledging this concern, the ’gluten free’ claim now has much greater prominence.
Only someone who does nutrition labeling work would take note of the change made near the bottom of the packaging panel that contains descriptive text. lt used to read that the pudding is ‘a naturally healthy treat… ‘ Now it reads that the pudding is ‘a delicious treat…’
The FDA has assigned a very specific definition to the word ‘healthy’ when it is used to describe a food or beverage. A number of nutrient target levels must be met. Even with reduced fat milk, a serving of the pudding has too much saturated fat to allow use of the term.
A BIG CHANGE IN WEIGHT PER SERVING
Correcting an error may explain the adjustment in the weight per serving. A serving, as shown on both the old and new containers, is 1/2 cup. The weight of that amount was listed as 113 g. On the new container it went up 17 grams, to 130 g. Because the container size stayed the same, the number of serving per container was lowered from ‘about 6′ to ‘about 5′.
The prior weight appears to have been calculated, but calculated incorrectly. One wonders why the company did not simply weigh the product. It looks like there were two calculation errors. The 113 g weight is what 4 oz of water weighs. But a half cup is 4 fl oz. That amount of water weighs a trifle more than 4 oz.
Confusing the weight measurement, ounces, with the volume measurement, fluid ounces, is fairly common. Whoever authorized two such similar designations is the true guilty party in this mix-up. Metric measure avoids similar confusion. Weight is in grams and volume is in milliliters.
The second error was caused by using the density of water as the density of the pudding. However, the pudding has a greater density than water because it contains dissolved sugar. Both errors contributed to the low weigh that had been listed.
To recap: The major recipe change in the pudding was the switch to a lower fat milk. But this change is not highlighted. Nutrition claims were corrected and updated to reflect current concerns. The new packaging replaced an incorrectly calculated serving weight with the actual serving weight.
Manufacturers of highly regarded premium food products, such as Kozy Shack brand Chocolate Pudding, regularly update both recipes and labeling to keep up with the times. Not doing so increases the risk of regulatory oversight as well as the risk of a decrease in consumer demand.
Richard Perlmutter is the owner of Abington Nutrition Services LLC which prepares nutrition labeling for products manufactured by food and beverage companies. He also takes an interest in seeing that government nutrition policy is in line with nutritional science.
(References to this article are available on request from the author.)