Sunday, January 4, 2009

Say What????

The US government has been doing a fairly fine job of making manufacturers put vital information for consumers on the packages of food that they buy. However, there is still a long way to go before manufacturers won't be able to find a "sort-of" way around some of the regulations.

One of the kosher grocery stores had a truly great price on frozen pizza . I went to buy two boxes for the freezer for "emergency" purposes now that the weather is nasty and I'm busy with my mom. Simple, right? Wrong.

This pizza--8 slices to the box, regulation pizza-store size--comes in four varieties now. Regular white flour, white flour 55% reduced fat, regular whole wheat and whole wheat 55% reduced fat. Logic would seem to tell me to go for the reduced fat pizza.

The regular pizza is 420 calories for one slice, with 140 of those calories from fat, for 15 grams of fat per slice. It also provides 15% of daily Vitamin A, 8% of vitamin C, 50% of calcium and 20% of iron.

Now here is where things get sticky. The 55% reduced fat pizza contains only 5 grams of fat per slice--a good thing. But that is a reduction of 66% fat, not 55%. At 55% reduction there would be only 63 fat calories per slice. 63 subtracted from the 140 fat calories gives you 77. Subtract 77 calories from the 420 and you get 343 calories per slice. But the box states 320 calories per slice. I wasn't a math major, but something does not add up here.

In addition, the Vitamin A, vitamin C and iron are cut by 50% and the calcium by 60% on the lower fat product.

The manufacturer is cutting out a lot of something, but it's not that the pizza is equal to the regular pizza in every other way. If the manufacturer had switched to the low fat cheese available then fat calories would be reduced, but I have yet to see kosher low fat cheese reduced by 66%, which is what the fat grams above tell us. And given the calories stated on the lower fat cheese, and the amount of the nutrients in it, the manufacturer is NOT using lower fat cheese. The conclusion I came to is that the manufacturer is using less cheese, born out by a statement from someone in the store who has purchased this product. But they are also using less of something else in order to reduce fat and calories to the level they state on the box. Now according to the ingredients there is no fat used other than that which is in the cheese. But that can't be possible if they reduced the fat grams by 2/3.

So what are you really getting if you buy this product? Are you getting less pizza product? Or is it possible that the label does not correctly state the nutrition facts. If nutritional labeling was supposed to make it easier for consumers, this is one product that it did not make easier to understand. Yet another example of let the buyer be ware.

And no, it's not only the kosher producers whose labels don't add up, literally and figuratively.


Anonymous said...

We had surprise company last night so we brought in two pizzas, put out drinks and some snacks. The worst part of your list here is the calorie count for one slice of pizza. Three slices of pizza equal 1260 calories!!!! Add in the count for the rest of the stuff we ate and add in lunch on Shabbos and you get enough calories not to have to eat until Monday some time. Less calories to just eat a whole candy bar.

G6 said...

This is just incredible.
It truly makes me wonder what they put into this variety!
It's a bit scary, if you ask me, especially if the nutritional value decreases as well!

Anonymous said...

It's stranger still when you compare that pizza to a frozen non-kosher one in the supermarket. None of the figures match at all. Just one thing--do you have the weight of that package of kosher pizza? I couldn't find one to compare to the non-kosher one. If the weights are different then that could explain some of the other differences I saw.

And this is only pizza. I wonder just how many other products the label is mixed up about.

mlevin said...

Well, I know that regular pizza dough has olive oil in it. So, if the only source of fat in this low fat pizza is cheese, then it's logical to assume that they omitted oil from the dough receipe. In, addition, is there oil in the regular souce?

I also remember one of the lessons I learned in my WeighWatchers classes. "Just because something is lowfat does not mean it's low on calories. That fat has to be substituted with somethings to produce the same consistancy/taste. Usually that something comes in the form of starches"