Ingredients and Labels Are Crucial To A Diabetics Health

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • Those of us who are cutting carbs are often seeking some kind of low-carb bread or cracker that will serve as a platform for some soft cheese or other spread.

    One cracker product that Dr. Richard K. Bernstein said had the lowest carb count is the Norwegian GG crispbread. According to Bernstein, a 9-g cracker contained about 3 grams of digestible carbohydrate, or "net carbs," meaning total carbohydrate minus the fiber.

    Yet for some time the GG crispbreads have been sold in the United States with a label on the front of the package, and a banner on their Web site, that said it containe 0 g net carbs. The nutritional information claimed that the product had 3 g of total carbohydrate and 3 g of fiber. Subtracting the fiber from the total carbs would, in fact, give 0 g net carbs.

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    But the product claimed to be about 85% bran, with the rest being rye flour, and rye flour contains some starch. What was happening here?

    Clearly, the problem was because the Europeans use a different method to label their foods. When they list carbs, they list only digestible carbs. Then they list fiber. To get what Americans consider to be total carbs, you add the carbohydrate and the fiber. Because they've already subtracted the fiber, you don't subtract it again.

    For example, let's say my award-winning Chewy Cardboard crackers contained 5 g of starch, and 4 g of cardboard (fiber). In America, Chewy Cardboard would be labeled as 9 g of total carbs and 4 g of fiber. To get "net carbs," you'd subtract the fiber from the total carbs and get 5 g.

    In Europe, Chewy Cardboard crackers would be labeled as containing 5 g of carbs and 4 g of fiber. You'd already have the net carbs, so you wouldn't subtract anything.

    Apparently the Americans selling the GG crackers didn't understand this, so they looked at the Norwegian nutrition facts and subtracted the 3 g of fiber from the 3 g of carbohydrate (which was already net carbs) and got zero carbs and advertised it this way on their packages and Web site.


    I wrote to them several years ago and said I thought this was false advertising. They referred me to the US Web site that claimed they had zero carbs.


    But now I see they've relabeled their product. Now they say there are 7 g of total carbs and 5 g of fiber for 2 g of net carbs (they've also increased the cracker size and increased the percentage of bran). And the package now claims "Low Carb" instead of "0 Carbs." It's nice to see that they're being honest at last. But I wonder what took them so long.

    The moral of this story is Buyer Beware. People selling stuff may not understand labeling rules. Double-check everything you buy. Read ingredients. Most of all, use your meter to find out what you can eat.


Published On: March 10, 2009