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> New Serving Sizes For Snacks And Soda?, Article from The Motley Fool
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post Oct 19 2004, 09:38 AM
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New Serving Sizes for Snacks and Soda?

Mon Oct 18, 2:35 PM ET

By Alyce Lomax

Nutrition facts are a funny thing. Most of us have quietly despaired of eating just "one serving" of a small package that contains "three servings" of a product. However, a new trend in labeling will allow us to clearly see the nutrition (or lack thereof) that we derive from packages of treats that are generally ingested in a single glorious eating event.

Latest on the bandwagon are Coke (NYSE: KO - News) and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP - News), according to USA Today. It's no secret that most of us sit down and drain a 20-ounce bottle of soda at one time, not stopping at the 8 ounces that composed the former "single serving" that correlated with the label. Therefore, it stands to reason that the 20-ounce beverage should reflect exactly what you're ingesting.

As a matter of fact, according to Coke and Pepsi's announcements, their new labels will contain information for the traditional 8-ounce serving size as well as for all bottle sizes, no matter how large. This initiative will start next year.

Coke and Pepsi join Kraft (NYSE: KFT - News) in a preemptive strike against regulation, as the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) recently recommended but did not mandate clearer nutrition labeling of foods that could easily be considered a single serving.

While it may be only a matter of simple math for consumers, I'm willing to bet that for many people with a bag or a bottle, there's a fair amount of disconnect between seeing the nutritional aspects of one serving size when there are more than that in the package, and knowing when to say when.

It's high time that food manufacturers stopped using nutrition labels to play silly "serving size" games with consumers. (Heck, Pepsi's own Lay's potato chip ads have dared us with their taunt, "Betcha can't eat just one.") No, nobody can eat just one chip. Nor can most people eat just one small scoop of ice cream, or three squares of chocolate, and so forth. It's just unrealistic when a package size is usually a perfectly good gauge of what to consume.

So, coming soon, when you sit down with, say, a 20-ounce Coke and a small bag of Oreos, you'll know just how much fat, calories, and carbohydrates you're consuming for that midday snack. Food and snack-oriented stocks may have some near-term pain if consumers really do begin to curb their eating habits when the facts are spelled out for them, but in the long run -- and with the heat on food manufacturers for the nation's high obesity rates -- honesty's the best policy.

Are you happy about the trend toward less misleading labeling? Do you always scrutinize nutrition facts before consuming a product? Talk to other health-conscious Fools on our Health and Nutrition discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. There are lots of zeroes on the nutrition label on her can of Diet Coke.
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