Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Serving it up at Manenberg Primary!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nutrition Fact Labels Continued: Finland

Good evening from Stockholm, Sweden!

As usual, I am amazed by the gorgeous architecture and beautiful scenery. Earlier today, I got to see the changing of the Swedish guard - with a special guest, Peder Fredricson.

[I totally took this picture! If you don't know who Peder is, take a look at what is around his neck.]

Fredricson received the silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the equestrian jumping competition. Or, you perhaps know him more famously as the rider who dabbed after his performance:


He was honored earlier this afternoon. Cool moment on the road, eh?

Well, I wish to continue the installment of comparing nutrition facts label from around the world, but I made the sad/awkward realization that EU countries all have the same nutrition facts labels. Hehe, whoops. 

But, I will continue to post as "new" dissimilarities emerge from these labels. Such as, this Finnish label.

A point of confusion: why are serving sizes so confusing in Europe?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I taught a nutrition program at a non-profit last summer. The most difficult concept for my students to grasp was without a doubt serving size. I mean, how does one explain that there is a recommended amount of food - and it is sometimes arbitrarily assigned - that someone should eat? Furthermore, it is incredibly difficult to visualize how much "3/4 cup of oats" or "8 ounces of soda" are!

Even though both labels are for the same bottle of Coca Cola (think, a larger bottle of Coke, not a can), could you see how the label on the left is confusing? Even misleading? I would argue that Coca Cola is hiding how unhealthy it is by increasing the number of servings, making sugar content seem smaller. However, the response to this is common and common-sensical: when children see a bag of chips or can of soda, they often assume that the whole bag or can is one serving. 

However, some nutrition facts labels' serving sizes make sense to me. In America, a serving size for a bread loaf is usually a piece of bread. Or, a candy package will often say, "12 pieces" as a serving size, which sends a clear message to consumers of how many they should eat. But as I have been looking into nutrition facts labels in Finland (and other EU countries), I have been confused and frustrated by their usage of serving sizes. Take a look:

Finnish bread

A typical Finnish loaf of bread is measured in terms of 100 grams. In fact, every European nutrition facts label uses 100 grams as the serving size.

[Click on the picture if necessary, sorry if the writing is small!]

How much is 100 grams of bread? Or, how much is 100 grams of Goody Cao, aka Nesquik?

[Goody Cao was kind enough to also include "10 g" in a serving. But how much is 10 g of powder?]

Without providing context as to how much 100 g of food is, it is extremely difficult to know how much you should or shouldn't eat. I suppose the only option is to look at the number of grams on the box (see the "800 grams" on the Goody Cao label?), divide that by 100, and try to visualize that fraction? But again, you may not want to eat 100 grams of the food to begin with. Could you imagine eating 1/8 of a Nesquik container in one sitting? Oh mommy. 

Perhaps Europeans have an easier time than I in visualizing what 100 g is like, but I have my doubts ...

Hmmm ... perhaps this calls for an experiment? ... *cogs begin churning in Erin's brain*

Alright friends, stay tuned for my last Italian blog post, and the start of the Finnish! (hehe should I Finnish the Italians?)

Erin and the Nesquik Bunny

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