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This post is inspired by the ordeal I had to suffer because I decided to have scones and blueberry jam for breakfast yesterday morning.

I enjoy baking and decided to make quinoa and spelt scones over the weekend. I will do a recipe post next week as this batch was a test batch. I will do a proper batch next weekend.

Anyway, back to the topic, so since I had some crème fraîche (by the way it a good alternate to clotted cream) and store bought blueberry jam (I have not tried this recipe but want to) I  I decided to devour my fresh out of the oven scones (topped with crème fraîche and blueberry jam) and home brewed coffee.

It was the perfect weekend breakfast until I had to log it at MFP.

I had used store bought Clearspring blueberry jam, which by the way tastes awesome.

Blueberry Jam

But, is a nightmare to record in the food diary. The nutrition info is given for 100 gram and the bottle is for 290 grams of jam. Therefore, unless you are intending on having approximately 1/3 of the bottle in a sitting, it frankly quite impractical.

Also, in my opinion, having information in grams is quite impractical. I don’t know about you but I never measure jam in grams. I (until I started measuring process) used to dip the knife in and use the jam. Now, that I have started measuring food I eat, I use a measuring spoon.

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So in order to record the nutrition content of this – I had to figure out how much jam is in one table spoon (10.6 grams) and then do calculation for all the nutrition based on the tablespoon and then change it for 1/2 tablespoon since that is the quantity I actually used. I spent approximately 30 minutes trying to record the nutrition in 1/2 tablespoon of jam that I had for the breakfast. I frankly think that is crazy

I was so annoyed with this nonsensical way of labelling that I decided to check the FDA (US) and the EU Directive on labelling of food products.

USA

According to the FDA, the guidelines for labelling single serving and multi serving products is (from FAQs from the website):

The serving size statement for multi-serving containers must use the hierarchy of common household measures (21 CFR 101.9(b)(5)(i)-(iii)), whereas single-serving containers are required to use a description of the individual container or package (21 CFR 101.9(b)(5)(iv)). Multi-serving packages must list the metric equivalent to the household measure and the number of servings in the container; however this is optional information on single-serving containers. If the metric equivalent is listed on single-serving containers, it must match the net contents declaration for the product. An example of a single-serving container would be a 360 mL can of soda that is packaged and sold individually. The serving size for this product would be “1 can” or “1 can (360 mL),” and the number of servings would be “1” or not listed at all. By contrast, the serving size for a one liter soda bottle (1000 mL) would be “8 fl oz (240 mL) or “1 cup (240 mL),” and the number of servings would be listed as “about 4”.

Source: Answer L86

I think the above is interesting because a single serving product may actually be BIGGER than the recommended single serving size. I think that is just not acceptable. I think, in the above example, the can of soda should be listed as 1.5 serving size and it should be required that the household measures be mentioned and not replaced with fl oz – I am yet to meet someone who wants 8 fl oz of water or tea instead of a cup.

As a matter of fact, anything which is 200% above the reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) can usually be labelled as one serving except in case for goods sold as single serving:

A 130 gram muffin weighs 236% of the RACC for muffins. Products that weigh more than 200% of the RACC may be labeled as one serving if the entire contents of the package can reasonably be consumed at a single eating occasion. Therefore, there are two options for the serving size declaration for this large muffin: “1 muffin (130 g)” or “1/2 muffin (65 g).” 21 CFR 101.9(b)(6).

Source: Answer L87

In the above example, the “single serve size” actually contains 2.36 RACC (i.e., 2.36 serving size).  FDA, also prohibits use of decimal points and requires rounding. Ahmm, not sure how smart that is – 1.4 serving is actually 1 serving.

Notwithstanding the craziness of labelling requirements and serving size issue (which we can sort of start to rectify personally if we are counting calories). FDA does recommend the use of household measures as much as possible and I applaud them for it.

However, I would recommend everyone on calorie control diet and using labels for nutritional values to read the FAQs (if not the law) to understand the basis and the misleading information that appears in the labels.

EUROPE

The Council Directive 90/496/EEC of 24 September 1990 on nutrition labelling rules of foodstuffs (as amended) does not require the information for portion sizes to be mentioned. The summary of the legislation can be found here. Therefore, my annoyance aside, Clearspring is in compliance of the law and is doing all it needs to do.

However, this Directive is to be replaced from 13 December 2014 by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. The Regulation combines this current Directive and Directive 2000/13/EC relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs.

I thought that once this directive was replaced by the Regulation, the portion size portion size information will be included. I was WRONG!

The Regulation requires the following mandatory information to be provided:

the name;
the list of ingredients;
the substances causing allergies or intolerances (nuts, milk, mustard, fish, grains containing gluten, etc.);
the quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients;
the net quantity of the food;
the date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date;
any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use;
the name or business name and address of the food business operator or importer;
the country of origin or place of provenance for certain types of meat, milk or where failure to indicate this might mislead the consumer;
instructions for use where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions;
for beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol, the actual alcoholic strength by volume;
a nutritional declaration.

Source: Summary of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers.

However, I found a website called Food Drink Europe, which is an industry based group and according to their website:

…represents the European food and drink industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the EU in terms of turnover and employment. It aims to promote the industry’s interests to European and international institutions, contributing to a framework addressing, inter alia, food safety and science, nutrition and health, environmental sustainability and competitiveness.

The group has issued a paper based on Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries in Europe (CIAA) guidelines on providing information, which includes information on portion size, and providing information both visually and in text (and include details of portion size in house measures):

The front of the box usually include information in this form:

IMG_0446

And detailed labels is included either on the side panel or back of the box/container:

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Source: Both the pictures are of Kellogg’s Special K Cinnamon Pecan Cereal

I guess since there is no requirement for the law to disclose this information in Europe, companies cannot be held accountable for not including this information. However, the companies can be forced to change their opinion and follow market good practice. I wrote to Clearspring (today) and will hopefully receive a response from them. More importantly, I hope they will change their practice and include portion size information.