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Nutrition Labels and Hidden Sugars

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  • AlabasterVerveAlabasterVerve Member Posts: 3,172 Member Member Posts: 3,172 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I was at the grocery store tonight and actually looked at all the tomato pastes and didn't find any labelled no added sugar (some were labelled no salt) and also didn't find any with added sugar. I was at a WF, which may have biased it, but other than the 365 brands the brands there (like Muir Glen) are also at my Jewel (mainstream store). Some of them did have citric acid in addition to tomatoes.

    It was at Acme back in 2012. I don't remember the brand but I know I only found two that didn't have it (Hunts and Tuttorosso) when I went back - I know because I was very frustrated and started a thread complaining about it. :D Whether that's still the case I don't know.
  • ogtmamaogtmama Member Posts: 1,401 Member Member Posts: 1,401 Member
    rankinsect wrote: »
    I haven't finished reading so forgive me but...I think the fact that they go so far as to list sugars by several different names on the same list so as to alter the position of sugar on the label

    That is actually required by the FDA, and it's because there are many different chemicals that are all sugars. By federal regulation, on an ingredient list "sugar" may only be used to refer to sucrose that comes from a sugar cane or sugar beet. Anything else must specify the exact type of sugar. For example, it would be against regulations to call maltose "sugar" on an ingredient list, although it will be listed under the total grams of sugar on the nutrition summary.

    For some people it's vitally important to know exactly which kind of sugar they're digesting. For example, those with galactosemia cannot metabolize any sugar that contains galactose, and the consumption of galactose can lead to profound negative effects including brain damage.

    High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup have been shown to be exactly the same thing. Are you suggesting that the sugar lobby (and it is massive and powerful) has no impact on the FDA?
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    rankinsect wrote: »
    I haven't finished reading so forgive me but...I think the fact that they go so far as to list sugars by several different names on the same list so as to alter the position of sugar on the label

    That is actually required by the FDA, and it's because there are many different chemicals that are all sugars. By federal regulation, on an ingredient list "sugar" may only be used to refer to sucrose that comes from a sugar cane or sugar beet. Anything else must specify the exact type of sugar. For example, it would be against regulations to call maltose "sugar" on an ingredient list, although it will be listed under the total grams of sugar on the nutrition summary.

    For some people it's vitally important to know exactly which kind of sugar they're digesting. For example, those with galactosemia cannot metabolize any sugar that contains galactose, and the consumption of galactose can lead to profound negative effects including brain damage.

    High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup have been shown to be exactly the same thing. Are you suggesting that the sugar lobby (and it is massive and powerful) has no impact on the FDA?

    http://www.thekitchn.com/corn-syrup-vs-highfructose-corn-syrup-there-is-a-difference-196819
  • yarwellyarwell Member Posts: 10,573 Member Member Posts: 10,573 Member
    VioletRojo wrote: »
    I don't understand how the sugar can be hidden if it's listed on the ingredient label. Either the sugar occurs naturally in the food, or it's added. If it's added, it'll be on the ingredient label.

    It is always on the nutritional label too.
  • JeromeBarry1JeromeBarry1 Member Posts: 10,168 Member Member Posts: 10,168 Member
    Manufacturers attempt to "hide" sugar by calling it something else on the ingredient list. The most extravagant I can recall is "Evaporated cane juice".
  • yarwellyarwell Member Posts: 10,573 Member Member Posts: 10,573 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/

    Their nutrition facts say 0 for small, medium and large. So less than 5 grams.
    No wait that was for calories.
    How little of something has to be in it so they can say 0?

    In less silly labelling regimes the sugar per 100g of product has to be shown down to 0 1.

    There is a little glucose in potato and early season potatos for McD fries have a bit added to give the same browning reaction as later crops when the inherent sugar is higher.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    VioletRojo wrote: »
    Manufacturers attempt to "hide" sugar by calling it something else on the ingredient list. The most extravagant I can recall is "Evaporated cane juice".

    And you wouldn't know that evaporated cane juice is sugar? If not, then we have an education problem, not a labeling problem.

    That was my thought. Here's an article on it:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/10/18/163098211/evaporated-cane-juice-sugar-in-disguise

    I never get why people are willing to make claims in lawsuits that make them appear to be complete idiots, but so be it. There are worse examples.

    I do think trying to distinguish between cane sugar and evaporated can juice was just as ridiculous.
    edited May 2016
  • shinycrazyshinycrazy Member Posts: 1,083 Member Member Posts: 1,083 Member
    My perspective is a bit different as I'm diabetic (type 2). I pay attention to carbohydrate totals and look for sugar alcohols(which I avoid because they can wreak havoc on my gastro system). That's the end of my worries about it. If it fits my macros and carb servings for a meal, I'm eating it. It's going to be like sodium, once you start paying attention to it you will think the world has gone crazy because it's in the damnest places.

    Have the powers that be set an amount of added sugar we should be limited to ?
  • chocolate_owlchocolate_owl Member Posts: 1,431 Member Member Posts: 1,431 Member
    snikkins wrote: »
    JaneSnowe wrote: »
    snikkins wrote: »
    I disagree that there's hidden sugars. I'm really not sure who this is aimed at and it feels a lot like the "calories from fat" logic, or lack thereof.

    You mean who the thread is aimed at, or the change in the nutrition labels?

    If the former, I mostly am curious about why people feel sugar is hidden. @eveandqsmom gave a good example of why she believes it is.


    @eveandqsmom Thanks for taking the time to respond!

    The change in nutrition labels - I apologize for not being clear.

    In my ideal world, we'd have a population that was aware of the different things that are all sugar (as @rankinsect pointed out, they typically end in -ose) as opposed to what we're going to get which is likely "Added sugar is universally bad! Look! They have to label it now so you know it's bad!" because a lot of people don't seem to have an even basic understanding of this stuff, which is definitely an education failure, IMO.

    I hope I'm wrong about that, though.

    I don't know if it will make that much of a difference, honestly. The people who are already scared of sugar will continue to be scared of sugar. The people who have no objections to added sugar will eat it anyway. The people who don't read labels will still have no idea.

    I see some benefits: people who have to watch out for specific sugars can tell if there's something they should look for at a quick glance, people who are just starting to read labels will have a better idea if sugar is necessary to the product (i.e. you can get pasta sauce with added sugar or without), and some people who don't eat a nutrient-dense diet might be prompted to choose fruit over fruit juice cocktail or question if they should really have those Oreos.

    I do agree that we have massively failed with education, and I'm all in favor of throwing many, many more resources into that area.
  • yarwellyarwell Member Posts: 10,573 Member Member Posts: 10,573 Member
    I haven't finished reading so forgive me but...I think the fact that they go so far as to list sugars by several different names on the same list so as to alter the position of sugar on the label

    The Canadians proposed grouping the sugary things into a single category to fix this aspect.

    Ingredients lists tell us what the product is made from, so honey and cane sugar are logically separate. Personally I would like to know if "honey sweetened xxxxx" uses 20g of cane sugar and 2 g of honey rather than just 22g of "sugarandhoney" (tm).

    Nutritional labels tell us the analysis of the product, cutting across the ingredients.
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    yarwell 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.
    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/

    Their nutrition facts say 0 for small, medium and large. So less than 5 grams.
    No wait that was for calories.
    How little of something has to be in it so they can say 0?

    In less silly labelling regimes the sugar per 100g of product has to be shown down to 0 1.

    There is a little glucose in potato and early season potatos for McD fries have a bit added to give the same browning reaction as later crops when the inherent sugar is higher.

    82fbfe5fbc236a055907fdd24f7c4596_by_haunteduniverse-d8yx9a4.gif


    (Sorry, I just had to! ;) )
  • tjjalmeidatjjalmeida Member Posts: 5 Member Member Posts: 5 Member
    When I hear "Hidden sugars" I immediately think about the fact that there are so many different names that they call sugar on labels. So if you look at the ingredients and are searching for the word sugar, you will probably miss it! That's what frustrates me, it feels like the food industry is trying to "hide" the fact that they loaded the food with sugar. They other thing I learned and something I avoid entirely is anything that is "Fat Free" or "Low fat" because when they take the fat out of foods, it doesn't taste as good so they replace it with added sugar!!
    I look for natural foods that use honey or Agave as sweetners and if I'm going to by yogurt or cottage cheese, I avoid the fat free or low fat options.
  • chocolate_owlchocolate_owl Member Posts: 1,431 Member Member Posts: 1,431 Member
    shinycrazy wrote: »
    My perspective is a bit different as I'm diabetic (type 2). I pay attention to carbohydrate totals and look for sugar alcohols(which I avoid because they can wreak havoc on my gastro system). That's the end of my worries about it. If it fits my macros and carb servings for a meal, I'm eating it. It's going to be like sodium, once you start paying attention to it you will think the world has gone crazy because it's in the damnest places.

    Have the powers that be set an amount of added sugar we should be limited to ?

    The WHO recommends no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake from added sugars. The AHA suggests a daily added sugar intake of no more 100 calories (25g) for women and 150 calories (38g) for men.
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    JenHuedy wrote: »
    Along with the McDonald's fries, a better example from what I gave would be Jamaican beef patties. I occasionally eat a store-bought variety of this food. There is sugar added (7 grams of sugar is listed for a 5oz patty). However, the patty does not taste sweet at all.

    I'm not surprised by that. My brother's ex, who is Vietnamese, taught me a whole bunch of Vietnamese recipes, including spring rolls, meatballs, minced pork salads etc and they ALL have sugar added to the meat mixture. It's really not an unusual ingredient in what you would consider to be "savoury" meat foods. Just not one you'd think of if you didn't make those things yourself.

    I think the "surprise" about sugar in foods is related to the decline in cooking skills. Sugar is a flavor enhancer - just like salt. It is used in a lot of savory dishes to bring out different flavors, enhance browning or change texture. Even if you have never added plain sugar to a savory dish, I'll bet you've added something like soy, worcestershire or teriyaki sauces or ketchup. All of which have sugar.

    Now, is it overused in processed foods? Absolutely. But that's because people like it. If they like it, they buy it. If they buy it, then manufacturers will make it. If we don't buy it any more. They quit making it. That's how this whole system works.

    I wish some people would spend the time they use complaining about the evil food companies "hiding" sugar in foods to watch a few episodes of Good Eats or America's Test Kitchen and see the science behind cooking and how the most humble ingredients and simple techniques majorly impact the flavor and texture of food.

    Exactly. A balance of sweet, salty, sour, and umami can make all the difference between an OK dish and an AMAZING dish. Maybe not for everything, but that balance of flavors is key to many recipes.
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    tjjalmeida wrote: »
    When I hear "Hidden sugars" I immediately think about the fact that there are so many different names that they call sugar on labels. So if you look at the ingredients and are searching for the word sugar, you will probably miss it! That's what frustrates me, it feels like the food industry is trying to "hide" the fact that they loaded the food with sugar. They other thing I learned and something I avoid entirely is anything that is "Fat Free" or "Low fat" because when they take the fat out of foods, it doesn't taste as good so they replace it with added sugar!!
    I look for natural foods that use honey or Agave as sweetners and if I'm going to by yogurt or cottage cheese, I avoid the fat free or low fat options.

    Hi tjjalmeida, thanks for contributing to the discussion!

    Your point about sugar having different names has been addressed earlier in this thread.

    As for preferring honey over sugar: http://www.thekitchn.com/honey-no-healthier-than-corn-syrup-says-honey-funded-study-223752

    Edited because I didn't mean to sound brusque.
    edited May 2016
  • yarwellyarwell Member Posts: 10,573 Member Member Posts: 10,573 Member
    tjjalmeida wrote: »
    I look for natural foods that use honey or Agave as sweetners

    So you actually seek out hidden sugars ?

    Agave syrup vs cane sugar would be an interesting trial.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    tjjalmeida wrote: »
    They other thing I learned and something I avoid entirely is anything that is "Fat Free" or "Low fat" because when they take the fat out of foods, it doesn't taste as good so they replace it with added sugar!!

    Not necessarily. For example, low fat and skim dairy (cottage cheese and greek yogurt, definitely not cheese) is probably by far the most common such product I purchase, and plain dairy has no sugar added. It has sugar naturally, whether it's low fat or not. Flavored kinds will often have added sugar, but that's pretty hard to miss.

    Similarly, fat is removed from lean ground beef and skinless, boneless chicken breast. While I prefer my chicken with its skin, sugar is not added to these products.
    edited May 2016
  • extra_mediumextra_medium Member Posts: 1,512 Member Member Posts: 1,512 Member
    JaneSnowe wrote: »
    Hidden? No. Unknown to some folks, and unknown for some foods, perhaps. My local mexican joint recently swapped lard for HFCS. Do most patrons know that the sugar content of the tortilla probably doubled or tripled? Probably not. Do they know that the glycemic load of their tortilla probably doubled? I doubt it.

    I think "hidden" is the wrong word. Added sugar. That said, I'll be curious to see MFP posts when the label thing launches. I predict some folks WILL be surprised about the added sugar content of some foods. Who know though.

    Good point. I was thinking more in terms of food that comes with a nutrition label. But that's interesting that they'd swap lard for HFCS.
    Yeah, I'm seeing it more and more in tortillas.

    But yeah, good point about foods with and without nutrition labels.

    I wouldn't think that lard and HFCS are things that could just be swapped without it being obvious in regards to taste/texture.. don't they do completely different things in terms of the recipe?
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