Label Language

Food labels promising good health don’t always mean what you think.

Navigating food labels apparently requires a degree in food science. Claims of a given product being low in this or free of that are commonplace, but which are based on actual science and which play with the truth?

“All health claims have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” says Dr. Carla Wolper, senior research nutritionist at New York Obesity Research Center at St Luke’s Hospital.
Still, even with FDA oversight, labels often are tricky. Is there a difference between “Sugar-Free” and “No Added Sugars”? “Natural” versus “100-Percent Natural”? We asked several nutrition experts for their help in deciphering the meanings—and the values—of food labels.

Our Panel of Experts

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1. Paula A. Van Aken, director of didactic program/nutrition at Fordham University, Tarrytown
2. Jane R. Levine, dietitian, Hawthorne
3. Sari Schlussel-Leeds, dietitian, Chappaqua
4. Barrie Wolfe, nutritionist, Scarsdale
5. Karen A. Panzirer, dietitian and nutritionist, Katonah
6. Dr. Carla Wolper, senior research nutritionist, New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital, Manhattan


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