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    Quiz: Are You A Good Label Detective?

    hidden_ingredientsReady to test your food labeling smarts?  Take this ten-question quiz (answers are provided at the very end, but you have to promise not to peek!).

    Also, the idea is to take this quiz in one sitting without Googling answers or consulting the Small Bites archive.  So, grab a sheet of paper and a pen (that’s right, no eraser marks!)… and good luck!

    1. When reading a food label, which of the following should you look at first?

    a) Calories
    b) Serving Size
    c) Sugar
    d) Calories from Fat

    2. You see a bread advertised as “whole grain” that offers 3 grams of fiber per slice.  The first ingredient is “white whole wheat flour”.  You conclude that this bread is:

    a) Decent in terms of fiber, but not a whole grain product.
    b) Decent in terms of fiber, a whole grain product, but way more processed than a standard regular whole wheat bread.
    c) Decent in terms of fiber and a whole grain product.
    d) Trick question — there is no such thing as “white whole wheat”.

    3. Apple juice concentrate and sucrose (AKA white table sugar) are nutritionally identical.

    a) True
    b) False

    4. You spot a flavored 8-ounce yogurt that contains 38 grams of sugar.  Approximately how many teaspoons of added sugar are in that yogurt?  (FYI: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon)

    No multiple choice here.  You need to come up with the number!

    5. In the baking aisle, you spot some cocoa powder.  The ingredient list specifies it is “alkali-treated cocoa”.  This means:

    a) That most of the healthful flavonoids and antioxidants in the cocoa have been lost.
    b) That this cocoa is made from genetically modified beans.
    c) Nothing.  It is significant from a culinary standpoint, but not a nutritional one.
    d) It has been fortified with calcium.

    6. Vegetarians and vegans should avoid products that contain cochineal extract, since that is a red dye made from beetle shells.

    a) True
    b) False

    7. The term “made with organic ingredients” on the front of a package is insignificant, since it can be used even if just 10 percent of a food product’s ingredients are organic.

    a) True
    b) False

    8. Fill in the blank.  “Sucralose” is the official “ingredient-list” term for the artificial sweetener ______.”

    9. Often spotted at the end of ingredient list, “tocopherols” are:

    a) Harmless aromatic compounds.
    b) The science-speak equivalent of vitamin E.
    c) Highly processed compounds with questionable effects on human health that help impart a crunchy texture.
    d) An euphemism for artificial colors that encompasses reds, blues, and greens.

    10. The term “vegetarian-fed” when applied to beef lets you know that:

    a) The cows exclusively ate vegetarian feed.  Nothing else.
    b) The cows exclusively ate vegetarian feed and were grass-fed at least half of their life.
    c) The cows exclusively ate vegetarian feed and were pasture-raised.
    d) The cows exclusively ate vegetarian feed, did not consume antiobiotics, and were not injected with any growth hormones.
    e) B & D

    ANSWER KEY

    1. “Serving Size”.  This way, you can determine how all the other values (i.e.: calories, sodium, fiber) apply to the portion you will actually consume.

    2. C.  “White whole wheat flour” is made from an albino strand of wheat.  It is no more processed than standard whole wheat.  It is NOT white flour with extra fiber tacked on.

    3. True.  A granola bar sweetened with 8 grams of apple juice concentrate is no healthier than one sweetened with 8 grams of sucrose.

    4. There are 5 teaspoons of added sugar in that yogurt.  8 ounces of plain, unsweetened yogurt contain 18 grams of sugar in the form of lactose.  So, 38 grams in the flavored yogurt minus the 18 that are naturally occurring equal 20 grams of added sugar.  20 grams of sugar divided by 4 grams per teaspoon = 5 teaspoons.

    5. A.  Also known as “Dutched chocolate”, this processing technique removes bitter flavors along with a hefty amount of antioxidants and flavonoids.

    6. A.  Cochineal extract is more popular in South America (particularly Brazil), but has made its way into some products in the United States.

    7. False.  “Made with Organic Ingredients” can only be advertised on the front of products with ingredient lists that are at least 70% organic.

    8. Splenda.

    9. B.  Probably the most harmless ingredient with a Frankengredient-ish name!

    10. A.

    How did you do?

    Share

    9 Comments

    1. Paula Johnson said on October 19th, 2010

      LOL – wow I need to read more – I got 2 right :( serving size and splenda – but then as a bariatric patient, those are important to me – I’m just starting to think about other parts of nutrition… its a learning process :)

    2. Lori said on October 19th, 2010

      4/10. I had never heard of the terms “alkali-treated”, “cochineal” and “tocopherols”. That was a fun quiz though, thanks :-)

    3. Marianne said on October 19th, 2010

      9 out of 10, and only because I didn’t read one of the questions right.

    4. Andy Bellatti said on October 20th, 2010

      Great! You’re a food-label super sleuth, Marianne.

    5. Andy Bellatti said on October 20th, 2010

      Glad you learned some new concepts, Lori. I purposefully made it challenging.

    6. Andy Bellatti said on October 20th, 2010

      Precisely. Nutrition is a journey of constant learning. The best approach is to become more informed gradually, so as to not get overwhelmed.

    7. Brandon said on October 20th, 2010

      The only one I didn’t know was cochineal.

      However, I look at the ingredient list first when reading a food label. I like to look for which brand, in a line of similar products, is more processed, or has more functional ingredients added, etc.

      Also, a lot of nutrients might not be listed on the label, so thats what got me in to the habit of looking at the ingredient list so that I could really know what I am eating. Soybean vs Olive Oil, for example, would just show up as total fat if mono and poly aren’t listed out.

    8. Nicole said on October 20th, 2010

      Pretty Good Quiz.

      One comment on simple sugars. You make a point of saying apple juice concentrate is no different from sucrose, when it is fructose. i get that they are both simple sugars with insignificant nutritive value- but your question asked if they were “nutritionally identical”- which technically they are not!

    9. Deanna said on March 22nd, 2012

      I know this is an old post but I’m commenting anyway. :) I missed 3. I guessed on the beetles and didn’t think about naturally occuring sugars in yogurt. Also didn’t know 70% had to be organic.

      I wanted to say though that the first thing I look at on the box is the ingredient list. I am looking for many things that will place that box right back on the shelf. One is MSG or any of its versions. Anything that says “Autolyzed yeast” “yeast extract” or “smoke flavoring added” goes away. Also sometimes a package will say no MSG but later on it has “flavor enhancers” which generally function in the body the same as MSG. No artifical sweeteners or corn syrup. No nitrates or nitrites. We also don’t eat any pork. In a perfect world with unlimited income (and living in a more organic friendly location) I would feed my family all-organic whole foods. For now I do the best I can.

      Generally what I’ve found is that certain brands are usually reliable. Others we just don’t ever buy anymore.

      Thanks for the quiz. Hopefully as more people become aware of what’s in their food and stop buying unhealthy foods (Velveeta, anyone?) these companies will get a clue and produce what we want to eat.

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