EP 67: Nutrition Label Certifications and Healthy Snack Bar Choices

Food Labels and Healthy Snack Options

When it comes to what snacks or even foods to eat, always look at the nutrition label certifications and ingredients. There are various choices in grocery stores, so there is no excuse for the inability to find one that fits you. You need to watch out for their marketing and what they promote.

Food Labels Explained

Besides the nutrition label for food labels, there is another label to pay attention to. That is the loss of certifications. We have found that not all these so-called “certifications” are actually certified. That said, it would be best if you pay attention to food labels and what they contain.

Organic

USDA’s National Organic Program regulates labeling requirements for organic agricultural products. Organic labels are found on produce, dairy, meat, processed foods, condiments, and beverages.
 
Food products labeled as “organic” must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. It means no synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. No biotechnology, artificial ingredients, or irradiation is used in production or processing too [1]
 
Products containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients are produced without synthetic methods. They are labeled “made with organic ingredients. Yet, they cannot use the USDA organic seal on their packaging.
 
Farmers pay $1,200 and add an extra $700 or more for a new organic farm and organic processor to be “certified”.  

Certified Naturally Grown

The food was grown using the same standards as those for organic, but not on a farm certified by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Some farmers have criticized the cost and process they need to participate in the USDA’s organic program.

It is an alternative, non-governmental certification system where other farmers act as inspectors in a program administered by a non-profit organization called Certified Naturally Grown.

 “Natural” is a term present on many food products, so look closely at the label. The Certified Naturally Grown title indicates that someone certifies that it is natural, rather than just using “Natural” for marketing purposes.

Fair Trade

Fair Trade USA enforces fair trade standards. Fairtrade products must be produced in accordance with the following guidelines: Workers must receive fair wages, safe and equitable working conditions, and the right to join trade unions; child or forced labor is completely prohibited.

Crops must also be grown, produced, and processed in a manner that supports social development, economic development, and environmental development.

Fairtrade standards have been established for coffee, tea, cocoa, honey, bananas, juices, cotton, flowers, gold, rice, spices and herbs, sports balls, wine, composite products, fresh fruit, and sugar. 

Animal Welfare Approved

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is a division of the non-profit organization Animal Welfare Institute that started in 2006. Its standards cover the way its participating farms raise their animals (including beef and dairy cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and rabbits).

AWA states that the basic premise of their standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being. They only certify family farms (charging no fees to participating farmers) and state that animals must be raised on pasture or range.

American Humane Certified

The American Humane Certified program was created by the American Humane Association in 2000 to ensure that animals raised for dairy, poultry, beef, veal, goat, swine, turkey, and bison products are raised in a humane manner.

These guidelines, created with input from animal science experts, ensure that livestock has access to clean and sufficient food and water, as well as a safe, healthy living environment, and that staff and managers, are thoroughly trained to care for animals in a humane manner.

Non-GMO Project Verified

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization that provides the only third-party labeling program in North America for products grown without using genetic engineering. They verify that the process products go through, from seed to shelf, are produced according to their rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance.

Grassfed

USDA has a grass-fed standard for ruminant animals like cows and goats, which states that these animals must be fed only grass and forage during the growing season.

The American Grassfed Association is one organization that certifies beef, bison, dairy, lamb, and goat that is fed only on pasture, in addition to being raised without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, confinement, and with standards for high animal welfare.

Other animals, like chickens and pigs, can be pasture-raised (and USDA organic standards require at least some access to pasture), but there are currently no specific certification standards for non-ruminant animals being grass-fed or pastured.

Non-Certified Food Labels

The following nutrition labels depend on farmer and processor information to support the claim that the food products were raised in compliance with each set of standards. They do not go through third-party testing or certification, they do have certain standards they must prove. 

Hormone-free/RBGH free

This label means that the farmer has chosen not to inject his or her cows with any artificial growth hormones, like rBGH, a genetically engineered growth hormone.

The nutrition labels are also used on beef and chicken products, where the animal was raised without growth hormones or steroids. However, the USDA prohibits giving hormones to chickens, so the label doesn’t mean much there — all chicken you buy will be hormone-free whether it’s labeled or not.

Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.

Raised without antibiotics

Chickens, pigs, and cattle raised on industrial farms are routinely fed low doses of antibiotics (the same drugs we rely on to keep ourselves and our families in good health) to make them grow faster and compensate for overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions. This label states the meat or dairy was raised without the use of antibiotics.

The following are not certified or tested by any third-party regulatory agency and do not have a set of standards:

All-natural

While many products have “all-natural” nutrition labels or packaging, there is no universal standard or definition for this claim.

Free-range

Free-range poultry is poultry that spends part of their time outside and does not live in cages. These could be chickens, turkeys, or ducks. The USDA does not have a legal definition of free-range. Thus, free-range chicken eggs, beef, or pork are not regulated.

Healthy Snack Bars

There are so many varieties of snack bars it can seem impossible to choose from. With a wide variety, there will also be a variety of healthy choices. Some use marketing gimmicks that you should stay away from, just because the box looks nice does not always mean it should be your choice. While they sound healthy, always pay attention to the nutrition label certifications. It will tell you what you are actually consuming no matter how healthy it seems. 

Labels to Pay Attention To 

Before buying food that’s packed, make sure to pay attention to the following. It will give you an idea of what you are actually putting inside your body [2].

Ingredients

This is the most important place to look in nutrition label certifications. You should always try to avoid ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, soy protein isolate, and inulin (“fake fiber”). The first ingredient or ingredients should be whole foods like apples, bananas, dates, etc.

Protein content

Protein and amino acids are the building blocks for your muscle. They are also for optimal organs and function. Many dieticians recommend getting snack bars with at least 5g of protein. But many protein bars are made of fruits so they also recommend some protein to go with it.
 
Protein is important because it supports and strengthens your cartilage, bones, and muscles. It also boosts your immune system and regular functions. It will also up the satisfaction and satiating factor of your snack. Protein should also be a part of the nutrition label certifications of the food you eat. 

Fiber

This is something the majority of people never get enough of, we are even guilty. It is important to try and get as much of it whenever you can. It will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Fiber helps to regulate digestion, improve heart health, prevent type 2 diabetes, combat inflammation, and reduce your risk for cancer.

Sugar content

Beware of added sugar! Try to select a bar that doe not contain any added sugars. There is a difference between natural sugar and added sugar. Snack bars will always have carbs and sugar because they usually come from fruit but avoid the added ones. 

RX Bar

Lara Bar

Quest Bar

Natures Bakery

Chewy

 

Kind Bar

Luna

Cliff Bar

Don’t skip reading the labels. Learn more about them in this video 👇👇👇

SHOW NOTES:

0:00 Introduction
2:09 Episode Introduction
2:30 Food Labels Explained
3:19 Organic
4:41 Certified Naturally Grown
7:50 Fair Trade
8:40 Animal Welfare Approved
11:59 American Humane Certified
12:20 Non-GMO Project Certified
15:34 Grassfed
18:40 Non-certified Food Labels
10:06 Hormone-free / RBGH-free
20:11 Raised without Antibiotics
20:54 All-natural
21:43 Free-range
23:30 Healthy Snack Bars
23:50 Ingredients
24:18 Protein Content
26:05 Fiber
27:02 Sugar Content
28:59 Most Popular Snack Bars

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