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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  November 13, 2004
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Carb Confusion
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Food & Drug Administration

Low carbs... No carbs... Net carbs.  The products are everywhere!!

Lauren Sturges is among the throngs of Americans who are watching their carbohydrates. She says the explosion of products is like a dream come true, "You can have everything from chocolates to pancakes, you name it. I don't think there's anything that they haven't found a low carb solution to."

The labels may say "low carb", but what are you really buying?  What does "low carb" mean anyway?

Dr. Lester Crawford of the Food and Drug Administration says the FDA does not have guidelines. That's right, no guidelines. Dr. Crawford says the FDA has no definition of what constitutes low carb, unlike the specific guidelines it's had for a decade for low fat and low calorie foods.

"We never got to carbohydrates because people didn't care about carbohydrates then," says Dr. Crawford.

Now the FDA is releasing a report that could help bring order to the carbohydrate confusion.

What about the term "net carbs"? What does that mean? The FDA doesn't have a definition for that, either.

Dr. Crawford says, "There's no general agreement on what the term means, and how it relates to the label."

But Dr. Crawford's group is working on finding a definition for the carb label. So, if you're watching your carbs, what should you do until the guidelines are firmed up? Registered Dietician Reesa Sokoloff says pay close attention to the ingredients on the label, "Sugar is an absolute no-no, polydextrose, another form of sugar, is an absolute no-no and wheat flour.  Anything that's got the word flour after it is a no-no."

Lauren says she's an educated carb counter, "For me, I can figure things out for myself. You can't be eating them all day long and expect to lose weight."

Dr. Crawford is expected to release his groups' recommendations Thursday, February 12th.  The FDA will take the report and use it to help formulate guidelines to deal with the carb confusion.

Experts say that you need to know what the ingredients are in order to know what you're dealing with.  If you run into an ingredient you don't recognize and need help, you can call the FDA's hotline at 1-888-INFO-FDA or you can check a company directly by using the number on the package.


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