US nutrition bars fail label claims

- Last updated on GMT

More than 60 per cent of nutrition bars tested in a recent survey
failed to live up to their label claims, independent researcher
ConsumerLab.com reports this week

More than 60 per cent of nutrition bars tested in a recent survey failed to live up to their label claims, independent researcher ConsumerLab.com reports this week. ConsumerLab.com purchased a total of 30 nutrition bars, including "meal-replacement bars," "energy bars," "protein bars," and "diet bars." Many bars, particularly those for diet, carried claims of being "Low-Carb" or "Sugar-Free", and some were labelled as "dietary supplements," as opposed to food products, because they contained ingredients only approved for use in supplements, such as ephedra or hydroxymethyl butyrate (HMB). The products were analysed to determine their total calories, total carbohydrates, total sugars, total protein, total fat (including a breakout of saturated fat), sodium and cholesterol. Results were evaluated to determine if the products' labelling claims were accurate. Out of 30 products tested, a surprising 60 per cent failed to meet their labelling claims and only 12 products passed on all criteria. The protein bars were most likely to fail (only 1 out of 12 passed), followed by meal-replacement bars (1 out of 8 passed), and diet bars (4 out of 10 passed). Bars that did not specify any particular use were most likely to pass (all 5 passed), followed by energy bars (4 out of 5 passed). The most common problem among the products was finding undeclared amounts of carbohydrates. In fact, a full one-half (15) of the nutrition bars exceeded their claimed levels of carbohydrates, often by large amounts. Other problems detected: seven products found to contain more sodium than declared on the label; two products exceeded their claimed amounts of fat, respectively, by three grams and one and one-half grams; four products had higher than claimed amounts of "saturated" fat. According to ConsumerLab.com the FDA has been sending warning letters to manufacturers about the deceptive practice of mislabelling of carbohydrates, informing them that it is in violation of the law. Warning letters have also been sent to manufacturers indicating that the term "Low Carb" is not an FDA-authorised term and should not be used - unlike the terms "Low in Saturated Fat" or "Low Sodium" which carry specific legal definitions. On a positive note all of the products were within an acceptable range of their protein claims.

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