Canadian Packaging

Sugar Rush


April 26, 2010
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor

I have recently been classified as a diabetic.

My blood sugars are higher than they should be, and while I am in that diabetic range, my pancreas is still working, so I prefer to look at this as a warning.

It means no more ice cream for me or cookies, pastries, sugary cereals, doughnuts or chocolates. Obviously, if I had done things in moderation, I wouldn’t be in this mess, but that wasn’t me. I used to go through a case of soda pop in two days, but eventually I switched to Coke Zero, with zero sugar, calories or carbs, and have learned to drink like a normal human being – even adding water to my diet, because who needs another kidney stone. When did I get old?

Related coverage:

Now because I’m changing my eating habits, I am picky about what I pick up at the grocery store—and yes, I do the shopping for my family. That means I am dependent on packaging to save my life—specifically labeling.

I pick up every product and examine it for sugars, salt, carbs and more. I know my new eating habits may cause some of you to loose a goodly amount of money this quarter, but please, can you create a standard food product scale that doesn’t involve obfuscation?

I recently purchased a 425 gram can of chili that has a Health Check logo offered by the Heart & Stroke Foundation (I’m guessing the U.S. version)—all well and good, right? But my problem is with the nutritional numbers. The data on the label is all based on one cup or 250 grams of product. So now I have to do math. Forget Barbie, math is hard for Andrew, too. So, once I divide 250 into 425, I then have to multiply that result by the nutritional data on the label. And, depending on how many facts I am interested in, it could be 10 math equations or more. Who has the time for that? Maybe I’ll buy something else next time.

So what’s the big deal? Why not tell us the exact data based on the weight of the product purchased? Is there something to hide? Is it to make the product appear better than its competitors? Quit screwing with us. Just tell it like it is.

Why not be like Loblaws Inc. and its President’s Choice Hickory Smoked Pork Back Ribs? The label states: “Per about three ribs (100 gram edible portion)”. In other words, per 100 grams of meat or three ribs. Obviously the data is inexact, as each rib could be of a differing size, but even I can figure out the pertinent data I need to avoid becoming sick.

Somewhere reading your labels,

Andrew Joseph