Getting The Facts On Food

An Irish survey of 536 consumers conducted inside supermarkets found that 61% of males and 40% of females never read the nutrition facts panels on packaged foods. That's the bad news. The good news would be that around half of those surveyed did check the facts.

Ireland's Nutrition and Health Foundation offered advice to those who struggle with understanding facts panels, which are not standardized between European Union countries. They suggest first determining serving size and servings per container. Then look for words like fortified, added and plus, which indicate enhanced nutritional value. Consumers should be particularly careful to calculate the calories of sugar- and fat-free products.

The Bigger Picture: Of course, there's an even easier way to make sure you're getting the best nutritional value for your hard-earned dollars. Avoid the center isles of the grocery store where the packaged goods are piled. Instead, stick to the perimeter coolers where fresh meats, fruits and vegetables are arranged. Natural whole foods don't require any facts panel labeling, so there's no code to decipher.
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