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Nutrition Labels and Hidden Sugars

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  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    So people are incredulous when they hear that McDonald's fries have sugar in them. There isn't an ingredients list to check, at least not when you're placing an order. (Maybe that's changed in the years since I've been in one.) Does this count as a "hidden" sugar?

    Apparently the ingredients are on their website. I don't eat there, so I guess I'm one of the incredulous :smile:

    http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/product_nutrition.snackssides.6050.small-french-fries.html

    heh: apparently sausage and egg has sugar in it too:

    http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/product_nutrition.breakfast.334.sausage-burrito.html

    The tortilla doesn't. It just has transfats and "intersified" fats.
    edited May 2016
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Posts: 1,282Member Member Posts: 1,282Member Member
    So people are incredulous when they hear that McDonald's fries have sugar in them. There isn't an ingredients list to check, at least not when you're placing an order. (Maybe that's changed in the years since I've been in one.) Does this count as a "hidden" sugar?

    The topic is "Nutrition Labels and Hidden Sugar". I'd like to keep the conversation focused on foods with labels, not restaurant food since not every restaurant provides nutrition info (yet). In those cases you could complain about hidden fat, hidden salt, hidden msg, hidden gluten, hidden anything.

    I didn't know fresh tortillas would have sugar, that surprised me; but restaurants can do pretty much anything they want to make their food taste better so I don't expect much from them.
    edited May 2016
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    So people are incredulous when they hear that McDonald's fries have sugar in them. There isn't an ingredients list to check, at least not when you're placing an order. (Maybe that's changed in the years since I've been in one.) Does this count as a "hidden" sugar?

    There's an ingredients list online. They have some nutritional information available in the restaurant, not sure what (I haven't been to a McD's in years). Looking online, the amount of sugar used in the fries isn't enough to be reported on the label under sugars (how many grams can be rounded down to 0)? [Edit: just looked this up, apparently less than half a gram can be reported as 0.] So not really hidden if you care enough to look at the ingredients list but as close as I've seen.

    The question becomes whether this matters, though. People don't think McD's fries are that good for them, and that they aren't (IMO, although obviously overall diet matters, not a one time food choice) isn't really due to the sugar at all. And the amount is so small.

    People have this idea that they (or Americans in general) are getting huge amounts of sugar in this hidden form. It seems not -- the stats I've seen indicate that most sugar people are getting is from obvious sources, and if you care what might be in a food that information is available (but for the local restaurants, and then you can ask, I suppose).

    But I still think the new label is a fine idea!
    edited May 2016
  • The_EnginerdThe_Enginerd Posts: 3,933Member Member Posts: 3,933Member Member
    I think about it from a logical perspective. For instance, there are some foods like ketchup that at one point I didn't think of as having added sugar, but yet it's there. I would consider it "hidden" in that sense. Whereas, it's common knowledge that a normal cookie contains added sugar.
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I've yet to hear about a food that surprised me with the added sugar (even apart from reading labels, which I do carefully).
    zyxst wrote: »
    I agree with Sabine. The sugar isn't hidden. You just have to know what to look for in the ingredients list.

    I don't really like the idea of "hidden" sugars because in most cases it sounds way more sinister than I think the reality of the situation is. It's not a bunch of dastardly super villains rubbing their hands together as they pour a vat of sugar into the city's water supply. But to play devil's advocate, I had no idea there was sugar in McDonald's French fries until I saw that movie. They're a salty, supposed-to-be-crunchy snack, pretty much as far apart from sugar as I could imagine. And there's no ingredients list.

    There's sugar in McDonald's french fries?

    ETA: yep! lookie there! http://www.livestrong.com/article/1002598-whats-really-inside-those-mcdonalds-french-fries/

    Apparently it's there to brown the outside of the fries when they're cooked. Kind of like how caramel is brownish. I don't know. I've never worked at a McDonald's, I can only go by what I've read. Anyway, you sound as surprised as I was.
    Yep, dextrose is added to be precise. BUT, very, very little is added. It's so little it doesn't even register in the nutrition facts for a large French fry (<1 gram of sugar). Despite the claims of the alarmist, pseudoscience filled, painful to read LiveStrong article, it is not there to "increase addictions and craving".
    http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf
    edited May 2016
  • AlabasterVerveAlabasterVerve Posts: 3,159Member Member Posts: 3,159Member Member
    The only surprise I've had was tomato paste. I was actually more concerned about the trans fats than the HFCS but both were a shock and completely unexpected. If I wasn't logging my calories here I never would have known. Not because I don't care but because it never crossed my mind there would be anything other than tomatoes in tomato paste. Live and learn.

    Of course the information was on the label but I don't think there is anything wrong with the hidden sugar message. If consumers know and care about it the food industry will respond.
  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I think about it from a logical perspective. For instance, there are some foods like ketchup that at one point I didn't think of as having added sugar, but yet it's there. I would consider it "hidden" in that sense. Whereas, it's common knowledge that a normal cookie contains added sugar.

    Ketchup is pretty sweet. That's actually why I don't care for it.

    I've yet to hear about a food that surprised me with the added sugar (even apart from reading labels, which I do carefully). There are some that have more (in at least some brands) than I would have expected, like many kinds of bread (I don't buy supermarket bread much, so might have been more aware if I did) and pasta sauce (again, something I don't buy).

    I do think lots of people don't read labels/ingredients, but that's on them, and suggests to me that they don't really care.

    I think you're right about folks not reading ingredients. I also think we need to keep track of what the various names are for sugars. And combine both of those, when making decisions, if added sugars concern us. I can choose the pasta sauce with 3 grams of sugar versus the one with 15 grams of sugar. And choose full fat dressing versus low or no fat dressing....
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Posts: 1,282Member Member Posts: 1,282Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I think about it from a logical perspective. For instance, there are some foods like ketchup that at one point I didn't think of as having added sugar, but yet it's there. I would consider it "hidden" in that sense. Whereas, it's common knowledge that a normal cookie contains added sugar.

    Ketchup is pretty sweet. That's actually why I don't care for it.

    I've yet to hear about a food that surprised me with the added sugar (even apart from reading labels, which I do carefully). There are some that have more (in at least some brands) than I would have expected, like many kinds of bread (I don't buy supermarket bread much, so might have been more aware if I did) and pasta sauce (again, something I don't buy).

    I do think lots of people don't read labels/ingredients, but that's on them, and suggests to me that they don't really care.

    I think you're right about folks not reading ingredients. I also think we need to keep track of what the various names are for sugars. And combine both of those, when making decisions, if added sugars concern us. I can choose the pasta sauce with 3 grams of sugar versus the one with 15 grams of sugar. And choose full fat dressing versus low or no fat dressing....

    That's a good point. Even if we don't know every name for sugar, the current label lists the amount in grams.

    I agree with Lemurcat. The new label is fine. I'm glad it'll be easier to see the calorie count.
    edited May 2016
  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    JaneSnowe wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I think about it from a logical perspective. For instance, there are some foods like ketchup that at one point I didn't think of as having added sugar, but yet it's there. I would consider it "hidden" in that sense. Whereas, it's common knowledge that a normal cookie contains added sugar.

    Ketchup is pretty sweet. That's actually why I don't care for it.

    I've yet to hear about a food that surprised me with the added sugar (even apart from reading labels, which I do carefully). There are some that have more (in at least some brands) than I would have expected, like many kinds of bread (I don't buy supermarket bread much, so might have been more aware if I did) and pasta sauce (again, something I don't buy).

    I do think lots of people don't read labels/ingredients, but that's on them, and suggests to me that they don't really care.

    I think you're right about folks not reading ingredients. I also think we need to keep track of what the various names are for sugars. And combine both of those, when making decisions, if added sugars concern us. I can choose the pasta sauce with 3 grams of sugar versus the one with 15 grams of sugar. And choose full fat dressing versus low or no fat dressing....

    That's a good point. Even if we don't know every name for sugar, the current label lists the amount in grams.

    I agree with Lemurcat. The new label is fine. I'm glad it'll be easier to see the calorie count.

    Right, the current label lists it in grams, but without knowing the names, it's hard to tell for pasta sauce (for example) what's added and what's part of the tomatoes. I like information. :smile:
    And yes, big calorie count, and apparently more realistic portion sizes.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    Most I've seen are just tomatoes, so that would surprise me too, and I'd avoid that brand.
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Posts: 1,282Member Member Posts: 1,282Member Member
    JaneSnowe wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I think about it from a logical perspective. For instance, there are some foods like ketchup that at one point I didn't think of as having added sugar, but yet it's there. I would consider it "hidden" in that sense. Whereas, it's common knowledge that a normal cookie contains added sugar.

    Ketchup is pretty sweet. That's actually why I don't care for it.

    I've yet to hear about a food that surprised me with the added sugar (even apart from reading labels, which I do carefully). There are some that have more (in at least some brands) than I would have expected, like many kinds of bread (I don't buy supermarket bread much, so might have been more aware if I did) and pasta sauce (again, something I don't buy).

    I do think lots of people don't read labels/ingredients, but that's on them, and suggests to me that they don't really care.

    I think you're right about folks not reading ingredients. I also think we need to keep track of what the various names are for sugars. And combine both of those, when making decisions, if added sugars concern us. I can choose the pasta sauce with 3 grams of sugar versus the one with 15 grams of sugar. And choose full fat dressing versus low or no fat dressing....

    That's a good point. Even if we don't know every name for sugar, the current label lists the amount in grams.

    I agree with Lemurcat. The new label is fine. I'm glad it'll be easier to see the calorie count.

    Right, the current label lists it in grams, but without knowing the names, it's hard to tell for pasta sauce (for example) what's added and what's part of the tomatoes. I like information. :smile:
    And yes, big calorie count, and apparently more realistic portion sizes.

    Oh I see what you're saying. That's very true!
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 9,533Member Member Posts: 9,533Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    The question becomes whether this matters, though. People don't think McD's fries are that good for them, and that they aren't (IMO, although obviously overall diet matters, not a one time food choice) isn't really due to the sugar at all. And the amount is so small.

    I agree that McD's fries are not a great food choice. Does it matter that they have sugar? Early in the thread, people were doubting the idea that there could be such a thing as "hidden" sugar. "Added" sure, but "hidden?" This was the clearest example I could think of.

    Personally, I won't eat at McDonald's except in times of starvation, and I don't worry about eating a small amount of sugar. But god damn I was surprised to learn it's there, and apparently so was everyone else judging from the responses.
  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Most I've seen are just tomatoes, so that would surprise me too, and I'd avoid that brand.

    It really varies. http://runeatrepeat.com/2014/05/07/how-to-find-a-low-sugar-spaghetti-sauce/
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    Yeah, there are a variety of products where you can't tell how much is added.

    People make a big thing about pasta sauce, but my homemade (no added sugar) has quite a bit of sugar from the tomatoes and other vegetables, so I've been curious how much of those examples are really added sugar (I'm sure it varies a lot by brand).

    Flavored yogurt is another example where it's hard to tell what's inherent and what's added.

    Of course, this leads to the question (that Yarwell and some others will pose) that it doesn't matter, because sugar is sugar, but when the US Dietary Guidelines and WHO are suggesting limits on added sugar, it might as well be easier to figure out for those who want to track it.

    I also think focusing on added sugar at least prevents people from worrying about fruit consumption. ;-)
  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Yeah, there are a variety of products where you can't tell how much is added.

    People make a big thing about pasta sauce, but my homemade (no added sugar) has quite a bit of sugar from the tomatoes and other vegetables, so I've been curious how much of those examples are really added sugar (I'm sure it varies a lot by brand).

    Flavored yogurt is another example where it's hard to tell what's inherent and what's added.

    Of course, this leads to the question (that Yarwell and some others will pose) that it doesn't matter, because sugar is sugar, but when the US Dietary Guidelines and WHO are suggesting limits on added sugar, it might as well be easier to figure out for those who want to track it.

    I also think focusing on added sugar at least prevents people from worrying about fruit consumption. ;-)
    YES!

    And yeah, see my other post, the pasta sauce example gets used a lot, but it really does vary. Same with dressings, both full fat and non fat.


  • zornigzornig Posts: 338Member Member Posts: 338Member Member
    Perhaps once we start seeing the amount of added (versus naturally occurring) sugar in these foods, we'll start demanding that less sugar be added. American packaged food is pretty sweet; when I compare it to the things I buy in German grocery stores, it's pretty amazing.
  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    zornig wrote: »
    Perhaps once we start seeing the amount of added (versus naturally occurring) sugar in these foods, we'll start demanding that less sugar be added. American packaged food is pretty sweet; when I compare it to the things I buy in German grocery stores, it's pretty amazing.

    I wouldn't be surprised. And YES, I agree. As someone who travels abroad a lot I'm always surprised at how sweet packaged American foods are by comparison.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Most I've seen are just tomatoes, so that would surprise me too, and I'd avoid that brand.

    It really varies. http://runeatrepeat.com/2014/05/07/how-to-find-a-low-sugar-spaghetti-sauce/

    Oh, I know lots of jarred pasta sauces have added sugar (I suspect nearly all, but that the amount varies). I'm just a snob about not buying jarred pasta sauces. What surprised me was tomato pasta having added sugar. I do buy tomato paste (and canned tomatoes) and read the labels and wouldn't get one that had anything but tomatoes (maybe basil too if I'm feeling wild). ;-) Guess I've avoided checking out any of the brands that have other things added.
  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Most I've seen are just tomatoes, so that would surprise me too, and I'd avoid that brand.

    It really varies. http://runeatrepeat.com/2014/05/07/how-to-find-a-low-sugar-spaghetti-sauce/

    Oh, I know lots of jarred pasta sauces have added sugar (I suspect nearly all, but that the amount varies). I'm just a snob about not buying jarred pasta sauces. What surprised me was tomato pasta having added sugar. I do buy tomato paste (and canned tomatoes) and read the labels and wouldn't get one that had anything but tomatoes (maybe basil too if I'm feeling wild). ;-) Guess I've avoided checking out any of the brands that have other things added.

    Yeah, tomato pastes too. I see now that some are labeling them as "no sugar added".
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    The question becomes whether this matters, though. People don't think McD's fries are that good for them, and that they aren't (IMO, although obviously overall diet matters, not a one time food choice) isn't really due to the sugar at all. And the amount is so small.

    I agree that McD's fries are not a great food choice. Does it matter that they have sugar? Early in the thread, people were doubting the idea that there could be such a thing as "hidden" sugar. "Added" sure, but "hidden?" This was the clearest example I could think of.

    Personally, I won't eat at McDonald's except in times of starvation, and I don't worry about eating a small amount of sugar. But god damn I was surprised to learn it's there, and apparently so was everyone else judging from the responses.

    Oh, I wouldn't have expected it, although I guess some chips have it, so I'm not shocked.

    I think we are more debating/discussing the whole concept of "hidden sugars," which I'm connecting with this idea that some huge portion of our diets are sugar from unexpected sources. Mostly the sugar in savory things isn't that much or not really unexpected, but the bigger point is that you can see it's there. I wouldn't have thought the average supermarket bread has as much as it apparently does (although if I bought bread I would, as I'd read the label), but I wouldn't call that hidden since someone who cares can find out.

    I thought that's what Jane was questioning. I definitely can be surprised by some things that have a little sugar.
    edited May 2016
  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,426Member Member Posts: 19,426Member Member
    btw, while I find it a little "judgy" I like fooducate.com for learning about what's in our food.
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