Nutritional Labeling and FDA Oversight: Not What You’d Expect

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Krueger’s been testing her blood sugar daily since 2010;  she told Decoded Science that the reading she experienced after eating the SmartCarb #1 bread was by far the highest she’s ever recorded. Due to her reaction to the bread, Krueger decided to send a sample to Exova, a testing group, on May 21, 2012, to determine the accuracy of the nutritional labeling. Exova’s findings, based on 2 slices of the bread, directly contradicted the nutritional label, and found that the bread actually contained:

Calories: 130
Total Fat: 1.5g
Total Carbohydrates: 23g
Dietary Fiber: 6g
Protein: 6g

What’s the next step for Krueger? In accordance with the FDA’s guidelines, she sent a certified letter to the FDA to report the issue. According to Krueger, “They have received the letter.  I have not heard back from anyone yet. “

Decoded Science asked Julian Bakery for a comment regarding Krueger’s experience with SmartCarb #1 bread, and the Sales and Customer Service Team responded that they believe the Exova testing to be inaccurate. The Julian representative stated that they are in the process of conducting a “review of the product to ensure accuracy,” and that they intend to post the results of independent lab results within the month.

Optimum blood glucose levels throughout a single day: Image by Jakob Suckale and Michele Solimena

A Low-Carbohydrate Company’s Responsibility

Decoded Science also spoke with Brenda K. Oswalt, President of Dixie Diner’s Club, a health food company that specializes in low-carbohydrate products. Oswalt tells us that her company sends their products to be, “independently lab tested to verify carbohydrate counts. The lab tests also verify total proteins, fat, sodium, etc. We use various labs and don’t use one single lab.” 

She goes on to explain that, “Science, of course, doesn’t realize all the ramifications that contribute to blood sugar spikes in sugar-sensitive individuals but certainly total carbohydrate counts less the included fiber in specific consumed foods is an important diet guideline to follow. While individual blood systems vary, at least it gives a level playing field for all to know “before” they eat that food so they can check their blood levels before and after and tailor their diets to fit their individual blood level needs.”

Blood Sugar Testing and Nutrition Labels

Understanding that the FDA does not provide or approve the nutrition information for food labels is an important step for food-sensitive or dieting consumers. Although nutrition labels may provide a starting point for food research, if you’re diabetic or even just trying to lose weight, you may be best served by reading a food’s ingredients list and observing reactions to different foods. There is no direct FDA oversight for food manufacturers in the creation of nutrition labels, so discuss your dietary choices and health with your doctor, dietitian, or diabetes educator. Keeping blood glucose levels in check is critical to managing diabetes and living a healthy life, so don’t let mislabeled foods stand in the way as you work to improve your health.

Resources:

United States Food and Drug Administration. FDA’s Food Guidance, Compliance and Regulatory Information: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide. (2009). Accessed July 17, 2012.

American Diabetes Association. Checking Your Blood Glucose. Accessed July 17, 2012.

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