Nutrition Lies : Noms

Growing up, nutrition was something we talked about quite a bit. I’ve always at least glanced at nutrition labels and taken calorie count into consideration before eating something.

Recently, I decided to aim for an overall healthier lifestyle, that means eating more fruits and veggies, cutting out processed food, limiting waste, etc. Because I’m striving for a healthy balance I don’t always tell myself ‘no’ and last night was a prime example. We got home from work, I ate my dinner but I wanted more. Instead of reaching for more veggies, I bypassed the ice cream, and went for one of the bags of chips we have hanging around.

Frito Lay Scoops are definitely a product we hardly ever have in the house, even when I don’t care about what I’m eating. The bag we have in the pantry was calling my name, so I grabbed it, turned on The Real Housewives, and flipped the bag over to figure out exactly how many I could allow myself to bored eat.

The answer on the bag is about 28 chips. I was kind of stunned. 28 chips? I’m not the kind of person who can eat large amounts of anything ever, so 28 chips is crazy to me. How many calories? 160 calories in one serving. With chips, or any salty snack really, I looked at the sodium : 170mg in one serving. And for kicks, total fat : 10g or 13% of your daily value if you eat 2,000 calories a day.

I decided to split the portion in half, so I ate 14 chips. When I went to enter the food into my Fitbit food tracker (I don’t regularly use a food tracking app, I don’t have the best relationship with them, but I plan to speak with my university dietitian in a few weeks and I want to have a food journal to show them) I scanned the barcode and the information populated with 10 chips as the serving size.

But… The bag definitely says 28. Taking to the only place I know, I googled it. And, in fact, the serving size of Frito Lay Scoops is about 10 chips, not 28. I’m sure you can do this math but I’ll break it down for you… If you were to eat 28 chips that’s :

16 calories per chip = 448 calories
1 g Total Fat per chip = 28 g Total Fat or about 36.4% DV

I tweeted @FritoLay and got the response I was expecting, ‘Call this number and speak with a nutrition specialist.’ So I did that, and was told that the misprint is a known issue but it has since been resolved and the new packaging is being rolled out to stores. The misprinted bags, however, will continue to be sold.

Frito-Lay is a mega brand, owned by Pepsi Co. In my mind, if Frito-Lay can do it, Pepsi can do it, and Coke can do it… The list doesn’t end.

Now, let’s take Frito-Lay out of the equation. I’m not here to say “don’t buy Fritos” I’m here to say, why. Why is it okay that these labels are misprinted? I can’t imagine this is the first time this has happened, I can’t imagine this is the last time it will ever happen.

I understand that under the FDA rules food producers are allowed a 20% leniency when it comes to calories. Meaning that even though the Fritos bag says 160 calories, a serving may actually contain up to 192 calories. With chips I imagine this happens when they break, some are larger than others, a serving of the biggest chips in the bag will not be equal to a serving of the smallest chips in the bag. Either way, this isn’t the problem I’m having.

Imagine I’m someone who generally eats unhealthy, without consideration for nutrition labels, and I decided to go on a diet in May. On my cheat day I go for a snack, a bag of Scoops, and I make the conscious decision to read the nutrition facts so I don’t eat too many. I count out 28 chips and record 160 calories. In a month, the diet has gone to the wayside but I’m still trying to make good decisions and I pick up another bag of Scoops, I know that the serving size is 28 so I don’t even bother to look at the label (that is now correct) and unknowingly consume an additional 288 calories.

Chips are generally not a healthy choice, I get that. And the people who usually consume unhealthy snacks aren’t usually reading the labels, I also get that. But what about the people who are? The people, like me, who can only find it within themselves to resist temptation when given an exact amount of food that is ‘okay’ to eat?

Nutrition labels are not always correct, I get it. They should be used as a guide and not a guarantee, got it. But if I can’t use a nutrition label to gauge what I’m eating, what am I supposed to do? I can’t always count on myself to have fresh fruits and veggies in the fridge, I can’t always trust that I won’t decide to get a bag of cookies from the vending machine. I thought that I could trust those companies and the FDA to properly label food.

I did try reaching out to Frito-Lay again and got the same answer, to call a nutrition specialist. But my questions no longer pertain to the label on one package, I want to know how many times these labels get misprinted, I want to know what course of action companies have to take when the labels are misprinted, I want to know what the FDA does to the companies who misprint labels. I also want to know why companies don’t have to make it publicly accessible knowledge when they misprint labels. I feel like I would be less upset if there were a way I could look up ‘Frito’s misprinted label’ and see the incorrect label and the corrected label.

Anywho, that’s the end of my rant. I’m going to have to be over it because obviously nothing is going to change and I’ve spent the last two days trying to find answers, I’ve read dozens of blogs, scanned through the FDA’s regulations for nutrition labels… Oh well.

Have you ever run across a misprinted nutrition label? Do you think nutrition labels effect how much you eat and help you eat better? Let me know in the comments below, I’m still a little blown away by my experience.

Until next time! Xx

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