November 03, 2007
I always thought Nutrition Fact labels were pretty straightforward and truthful if you took the time to read them. After all, they are government mandated! In many cases that may be true but yesterday I was watching an informative presentation by nutritionist Jeff Novik. It may still be available for viewing here, but I believe it's only free to watch for a short while.
One of the products discussed in the presentation is Pam. I came straight home to my pantry and pulled out my own bottle of this "Fat Free" cooking spray. I don't use the stuff often, but I remember college roommates spraying it all over their cooking pans and food. It even comes in different flavors. And best of all, the labels claim that it is fat free, or for fat free cooking, or similar claims. Sure enough, the savvy label reader will see on the Nutrition Facts label, that this product has 0 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat. Amazing! Spray away!
Now keep reading down to the ingredients list and you'll see that this product is mostly olive oil. A fat free olive oil? How can that be? Amazing! Spray away!
Turns out that the government regulation states that if an amount is less than .5, it can be rounded down. Great–so each serving of Pam spray has less than .5 grams of fat. Pretty good, right? Wander up to the top of the label where the serving size is listed. 1/3 second spray. That's the serving size! Is it even humanly possible to spray something for 1/3 of a second? Even a conservative estimate of a 'serving' in my guess would be 2-3 seconds.
But by making the serving size this small, all the fat and caloric information is so minute it can be rounded down to zero. Sadly, genius.