November 27, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Food Labeling/Marinades

Having just tossed a jar of marinated mushrooms with shrimp for dinner, I wonder [the following:]

Does the "10 calories per serving" [figure] include both the marinade and the mushrooms, or just the mushrooms?

Would the answer be the same for all marinated foods and fruits in juice/syrup?

-- Luis [last name unknown]
Fort Knox, KY

Whatever caloric -- and nutrient -- values appear on a food label apply to the sum of every ingredient in that product.

Unless the label has two separate columns (say, one labeled "mushrooms" and another titled "mushrooms and marinade"), you can assume the provided figures apply to both the mushrooms and the marinade.

Since these mushrooms clock in at just 10 calories per serving, I am assuming the marinade is fat-free and made up mostly of vinegar and spices.

Anyway, the same principle applies to fruits canned in heavy syrup -- the values on that label are very different from those of peaches packed in water.

You often see the two-column food label with:

Cereal (one column lists values for the cereal, the other figures in a certain amount of non-fat milk)

Quick-cooking grains with accompanying flavor pouches (one column lists values for the grain, the other -- usually VERY high in sodium -- provides nutrition information once the flavor packet is factored in.)

And, most recently, with...

Some 20 ounce soda bottles and "single portion" chips (one column lists "a serving," the other lists values for the entire container.)

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