We are experts in the omega-three content of grass-fed beef; we know how much PUFA is in our macadamia nut oil; and how much potassium is in our avocados. But where does this information come from? It seems like maybe we don't think about that enough. I'd love to know:
i. What is the process for determining all the nutrients contained in a given food? Some of the information is incredibly detailed: you can get the breakdown of every single kind of lipid: 16:1, 16:1c, 16:1t -- and on and on. It would be great if someone out there could give an accessible explanation of how this works. All I know is that you don't just set the food on fire. (Because fire burns cellulose and people don't.)
ii. Who provides the information? Is it only the FDA? Are there private corporations involved as well? Is there competition and disagreement about some of the facts? What are the motives for discovering the nutrition information? And, maybe most important: Can we trust everything we read?
asked byPaul_1 (9647)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on November 02, 2010
at 08:54 PM
Here is the answer from the FDA.
- Food companies hire labs to analyze nutrients. Validated ingredient databases can be used, but the language is ambiguous on this issue.
- Labels are only required to have certain nutrients listed (such as protein, iron, etc). You can put other nutrients (such as omega 3) on there if it is not presented in a misleading fashion.
- The FDA essentially will never check up on you unless you do something egregious in labeling. So you can mislabel if you want, and go scott-free.
on March 14, 2011
at 06:17 PM
Quite interesting that this question has 5 upvotes, yet only 1 answer, meaning that people are interested in the question, yet not many people know the answer. I have often wondered this myself. A bit scary when you realize that there could be a fair amount of human error in the nutrition numbers. Also kinda spooky that every single food and drink product with a label has the nutrition breakdown of some sort on it. You'd think that with that much work going into the labeling, way more people would be familiar with the workings of that process.
on February 11, 2012
at 08:59 AM
I don't know where it comes from - but it varies a lot depending on if you check foods using NutritionData, FitDay etc. Checking 100 grams sardines canned in oil, NutritionData gives %RDA of selenium as 75, %RDA B12 as 372. FitDay gives %RDA of selenium as 96, B12 as 149.
And I find this with so many foods that I find trying to work out if I've got near the RDA of various minerals /vitamins is really difficult!
And there doesn't seem to be an analysis (that I can find) of Red Palm Oil at all.