Studying Food Labels (part 2)

The FDA has defined the following low salt terms:


term Definition
Unsalted no salt added
Without added salt no salt added
Sodium free less than 5 milligram per portion
Very low sodium less than 35 milligrams per portion
Low sodium Less than 140 milligrams per portion
These next two are defined relative to the manufacturer’s normal offering
Reduced sodium Contains 25% less sodium than the original food item
Light in sodium Contains 50% less sodium than the original food item


Although products may have “low sodium” labels, you still need to do your homework. Compute the amount of sodium per serving. Remember that manufacturers may not be as interested in your good health as they are in selling more product. Always do your due diligence.

In those rare cases where the labels do not show the amount of sodium per serving, you will need to study the list of ingredients. Ingredients are listed in the order of their weight. If salt is the second ingredient listed, it is the second heaviest ingredient in the product and you will likely want to avoid that food item.

You will also need to look for other sodium products on the label like baking soda (commonly known as sodium bicarbonate), brine, garlic salt, onion salt and sodium citrate.

Let’s take a look at this label from a can of Uncle Salty’s Lizard Gizzards:


INGREDIENTS: Lizard gizzards, vegetable oil, salt, onion salt, monosodium glutamate, sodium citrate, sodium caseinate, trisodium phosphate, sodium ascorbate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, artificial flavors, red 99, white 66, blue 33



While salt is the third ingredient, there are eight sodium ingredients making this product very high in sodium. You will need to remove this item from your diet.

As a last resort, if you cannot deduce the sodium amount from a label, you may need to write to the manufacturer directly. They are usually pretty good about sharing nutritional information. Some manufacturers will even publish this data on the internet. For example, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut make this information available on their respective websites.


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