New nutrition labels reflect more accurate serving sizes

There seems to be something different about the nutrition label on some of the foods I’ve purchased lately. Did the labels change?

Yes. In fact, the nutrition labels on some foods have changed and will soon change on other food products, thanks to new rules instituted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA announced the updated nutrition label design in 2016 as part of an effort to reflect updated scientific findings to help consumers make better-informed decisions about food choices and maintain healthy diets, the government agency said.

One of the biggest changes consumers can expect to see is a larger, bolder typeface for both calories and serving sizes. The typeface will be easier for people to see and read. And the serving sizes have been updated to better reflect the amounts of food and drink that people typically consume, not how much they should consume, the FDA said.

The change was based on more up-to-date food consumption data, which shows that people have typically been eating larger serving sizes than they previously had.

While the new labels were already placed on about 10% of food packages being sold last year, the FDA required food manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales to have the labels on all of their products by this year. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have until 2021 to put the new labels on all of their food products, the FDA said.

“The new label reflects updated scientific information, including our greater understanding of the links between diet and chronic disease,” the FDA said in a written statement. “It is also more realistic about how people eat today.”

Other changes you’ll see on the labels, in addition to the more realistic serving sizes, are that some packages are listing nutrition information per serving as well as per package. For example, the FDA said that on a pint of ice cream, you will see calories and nutrients listed for one serving and for the whole container.

The labels will also list added sugars, which are either added during the processing of foods or are packaged as such.

The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans supports reducing caloric intake from added sugars. Consuming too much added sugars can make it difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits, the FDA said.

Vitamin D and potassium will also be added to the list of nutrients required on the labels, whereas vitamins A and C are no longer required to be listed.

“Vitamin D and potassium are nutrients American’s don’t always get enough of, according to nationwide food consumption surveys, and when lacking, are associated with increased risk of chronic disease,” said Jenny Lobb, a family and consumer sciences educator for Ohio State University Extension.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“Manufacturers can still list vitamins A and C if they wish, but deficiencies of these vitamins are rare,” she said.

The information on daily values for nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D has also been updated and is used to calculate the percentage of Daily Value (DV) that is on the labels. The percentage of DV provides nutrition information in the context of a daily diet based on 2,000 calories per day.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line writer Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Jenny Lobb, educator, family and consumer sciences, OSU Extension.

Going out for Valentine’s Day? Pay attention to the details when dining out

Valentine’s Day is tonight and I plan to take my date out to dinner. Got any food safety tips on dinning out? I don’t want the evening to end on a bad note.

Photo: Getty Images.

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, you’re likely to run into a crowd at almost any restaurant you choose to dine in. In fact, Valentine’s Day is the most popular reservation day of the year for most restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association. For example, consumers plan to spend $4.3 billion on an evening out this year for Valentine’s day, according to the National Retail Federation.

With that in mind, making sure that your food is cooked thoroughly is just one way to protect yourself when eating out at a restaurant, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a Feb. 5 posting from the CDC, consumers are advised to follow these suggestions to prevent developing a foodborne illness from a night out to dinner:

  • Check the restaurant’s inspection scores before you dine. You can find this information at your health department’s website, ask the health department for a copy of the report, or look for it when you get to the restaurant. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, consumers can easily check to see if a licensed restaurant or other food establishment has passed inspection by viewing dated, color-coded signs posted in the restaurant. The colors indicate the results of the establishments’ most recent health inspections.

  • Ask before ordering. Raw or undercooked eggs can be a hidden hazard in foods, such as Caesar salad, custards and some sauces, unless they are commercially pasteurized.

  • Order your food cooked to the recommended endpoint temperature. Certain foods, including eggs, meat, poultry and fish, need to be cooked to a temperature high enough to kill pathogens that may be present.

  • Avoid food served lukewarm. Cold food should be served cold, and hot food should be served hot. If you’re selecting food from a buffet or salad bar, make sure the hot food is steaming and the cold food is chilled. Germs that cause food poisoning grow quickly when food is in the danger zone, which is between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Look for certificates that show kitchen managers have completed food safety training. Proper food safety training can help improve practices that reduce the chance of spreading foodborne germs and illnesses.

  • Look for safe food-handling practices. Sick food workers can spread their illness to customers. If you can see food being prepared, check to make sure workers are using gloves or utensils to handle foods that will not be cooked further, such as deli meats and salad greens.

  • If you end up with leftovers, remember to refrigerate them within two hours of being served, or one hour if the temperature outside is warmer than 90 F. If this isn’t possible, consider leaving the leftovers behind, no matter how delicious the meal was.

While Valentine’s Day is held as a romantic time for couples, it’s important to remember basic food safety tips to avoid developing a foodborne illness, which impacts thousands of consumers each year.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line writer Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Sanja Ilic, specialist in food safety for Ohio State University Extension.

The difference between broth and stock

My dad asked me to pick up chicken stock from the store for a meal that he wants to make for dinner. When I got to the store, I bought chicken broth and brought it home. He sent me back to the store because he said stock and broth aren’t the same thing. But aren’t they really?

Photo: Getty Images

No, they’re not.

Your dad is correct. There is a difference between broth and stock, and depending on which recipe he was making, the difference between the two could have an impact on the outcome of the meal. This is because, generally speaking, broth is lighter and more flavorful, while stock is thicker.

To understand the difference, it’s important to understand what stocks and broths are. Stocks and broths are liquids used to make sauces, soups, stews, and other recipes.

The main differences between stock and broth are the use of bones or meat, the length of cooking time, and the type of seasonings added, writes Jenny Lobb, an educator in family and consumer sciences for Ohio State University Extension.

“Unless it’s a vegetable stock, stock is made using bones, water, and a mixture of aromatic vegetables including onions, carrots, and celery. It’s simmered for two to six hours and generally has added seasonings,” Lobb wrote in Broth versus Stock, a blog posted at Live Healthy Live Well.

The site, which can be found at livehealthyosu.com, is a free information resource that offers science-based consumer information and insights. It’s written by OSU Extension educators and specialists in family and consumer sciences who are concerned with health and wellness. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

The boiling of the bones—generally chicken, beef, or pork—allows the bone marrow and collagen to be released from the bones, thus making stock much thicker than broth.

However, “broth, on the other hand,” Lobb writes, “takes less time to make, and contains meat (unless it’s a vegetable broth), vegetables, and seasonings, and is generally simmered on the stove top for no more than two hours.”

Stock is typically used in sauces, gravies, stews, and as a braising liquid for meat, while broth works well as a base for soups, stir-fry dishes, dumplings, stuffing, and for cooking grains and legumes, she said.

“Although broths and stocks can be purchased in cans and cartons at the grocery store, it is fairly easy to make your own at home,” Lobb said, noting that, “making broths and stocks from scratch can be a cost-saving activity if you save and utilize meat and vegetable scraps that would otherwise be thrown away.”

And with the cold days ahead during the remainder of this winter, soups and stews are a great comfort food to keep you warm on the inside!

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line writer Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Jenny Lobb, educator, family and consumer sciences, OSU Extension.