If you depend on the accuracy of nutrition labels for your food diary and your weight loss strategy, you need to know that they’re not always accurate. According to ABC News yesterday morning, the FDA allows for a whopping 20 percent variation in labels’ accuracy!
So if your frozen diet dinner says it contains 350 calories, it may legally contain as much as 420. (Or, to be fair, as little as 280—but I wouldn’t count on it! 😉 Does that make me a cynic? If so, so be it.)
The reason: Food really does vary in composition. (Read: A green bean is not a green bean is not a green bean.) But ABC’s research found that food labels varied by as much as 31%—way over the legal leeway. So beware the trusted food label. I’ll put the nutrition label in the same category that I put the expiration date: a guideline, not an absolute.