In an attempt to cash in on the Atkins diet craze, fast-food companies these days are redesigning their menus and touting their “low-carb” benefits. That label, though, is to be treated with a big grain of salt – the Food and Drug Administration has not issued a definition of “low-carb” and as a result any such claims should be viewed with skepticism.
As with all foods, the most important information to read is the complete Nutritional Facts and ingredients, which most chain restaurants now offer.
Many of the chains also proclaim “net carbs”, “net impact carbs” or “net effective carbs,” terms which also do not have an FDA definition. In addition, these calculations are very questionable calculation, according to many researchers and food scientists.
These numbers are determined by subtracting from total carbohydrates those carbohydrates – known as complex carbs — that have a negligible effect on blood sugar. The remaining figure is an indicator of so-called simple (or “bad”) carbs, which have been indentified as culprits in causing fat build-up.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America, a trade association, has petitioned the FDA to establish new regulations for carbohydrate claims. Their petition suggests guidelines, including “carbohydrate-free” (less than 0.5 grams per serving) and “low carbohydrate” (less than 9 grams).
For more information about the low-carb products, visit Phil’s website at www.supermarketguru.com. You can e-mail Phil directly at Phil.Lempert@nbc.com