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Nine Food Label Traps

Nine Food Label Traps

1. Stouffers Macaroni and Cheese

Stouffers One of Nine Food Label Traps The numbers on the box are for only two-thirds of each small box. How many of us eat only two-thirds of a box? The box contains one and one-half cup of macaroni and cheese - to eat only one-cup of that is silly.

So, instead of 320 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat and 970 milligrams of sodium, a whole box is giving you 480 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat and 1,460 milligrams of sodium.

2. Chips Ahoy! Cookies

Chips Ahoy According to the label, you get 160 calories in a serving of regular Chips Ahoy! But only 80 calories in a serving of Peanut Butter Chips Ahoy!. That is because the serving size for the regular is three cookies (32 grams) while the serving size for the peanut butter is one cookie (15 grams).

The reason: The FDA's serving for cookies is 30 grams, but cookies come in discrete units. If a "unit food" weighs at least half of the FDA's serving size - only the Peanut Butter Chips Ahoy! do - its label can use one unit as a serving.

3. Swiss Imprecision

"For Two Servings", says the box, but the label on the back says that a serving is two tablespoons (one ounce), because that is the FDA's serving size for dips.

So instead of 60 calories and three grams of saturated fat in two tablespoons, eating half the box will give you 420 calories and 21 grams of saturated fat (an entire days worth).

4. Boboli Personal Size Crusts

Boboli Mini Crusts According to the label, a serving is half an eight-inch crust. Eat an entire crust and you get 400 calories, not the 200 calories listed on the label.

In addition, you get 800mg of sodium instead of 400mg. In Boboli's defense, half a crust (71 grams) is closest to the FDA's small serving size for pizza crust (55 grams).

5. Mrs. Smiths Boston Cream Pie

Mrs Smith Boston Cream Pie One glance at their label and you think a piece of this pie has 80 fewer calories than a piece of the Mrs. Smiths Lemon Meringue Pie (210 verses 290).

Look closer: A serving of Lemon Meringue is listed as one-eight of a pie (120 grams), while a serving of Boston Cream is listed as one-tenth of the pie (77 grams).

The reason: The FDA assigns a smaller serving to Boston Cream Pie because, like eclairs, cream puffs and cupcakes it is a "medium weight cake". Lemon meringue falls into the general "pie" category, which has a 125-gram serving. Once you adjust the servings to one-tenth of each pie, the difference in calories all but disappears.

6. San Giorgio Spaghetti

San Giorgio Spaghetti The FDAs serving size for cooked pasta is one cup. It takes two ounces of dry pasta to make that cup. You might eat only one cup as a side order, but as a main dish?

At a typical Italian restaurant, a serving of spaghetti with sauce is 3-1/2 cups, not one cup. What is worse, few boxes mention how much cooked spaghetti you get from each two-ounce serving of dry pasta.

So most people have no way of figuring out how many calories they are eating. If the 210 calories on the label jump to 420 because you eat two cups or 630 because you eat three cups, you should at least know!

7. Coca-Cola

Bottle of Coca Cola If you purchase a standard, 20-ounce bottle, you are probably going to drink it by yourself, right? But the label says the bottle contains 2-1/2 servings. This implies you will be sharing it with 1-1/2 other people! Instead of 100 calories listed on the label, this Coke really has 250. Don't be fooled!

Update on Coke

We now see labels on the 16.9-ounce bottles (that used to be 20 ounces) saying boldly on the bottle that the entire bottle contains 200 calories. On the food label, it now specifies the bottle is one serving, not the 2-1/2 it used to state. Other soda brands are now doing this, as well.

8. Maruchan Ramen Noodle

Ramen noodles Like most soup, Maruchan Ramen Noodle uses the FDAs one-cup serving size, which is half a package.

If, like most people, you eat the entire package, you end up with 380 calories, eight grams of saturated fat (because of hydrogenated oils in the noodles), and 1.780 milligrams of sodium. This is like eating a Quarter Pounder with half a teaspoon of salt sprinkled on top.

9. Boston Market Chicken Pot Pie

Boston Market Pot Pie It looks like a single serving, but according to the FDA and the box, a serving of potpie is one cup. So, this dish technically is supposed to serve two.

The entire pie gives you 1,140 calories and 32 grams of saturated fat (1-1/2 days worth).

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