Friday, September 25, 2009

A week of liquid experiments

Not being as easily accessible around lunchtime I'd taken to bringing in a drink to eat with a brought-in lunch. Not wanting to faff with a flask of coffee or messing with bringing and remembering in milk when I'm the only one here who drinks it I'd picked up five kinda randomly chosen assorted bottles of soft-drink one for each day.

In order these would be Irn-Bru; Sprite; Tango Orange; Vimto; and Ribena Strawberry or to put it another way drinks (or labels) I haven't drunk for probably 5+ years. Pretty much how I remembered them, though I did enjoy Irn-Bru and the Strawberry Ribena was very nice. What did shock me was the RDA guidelines on the labelling. Okay I hold these to the high regard they deserve, but it was the mild duplicity of them that shocked.

The main two categories were Calories and sugar the others being trace or 0 . Values for four of them were much of a muchness with Calories from 107 (Irn-Bru) to 113 (Ribena) and Sugar from 26.3g to 27.3g (as before) with only Tango Orange having much less at 48 and 11g.

Okay as figures pretty meaningless until I add in the RDA percentages and that becomes roughly 5% and 30% for the four and 2% and 12% for Tango. So that's a third of my supposed sugar content in one drink! Well no look closer and you'll spot the text next to the figures that this is for a "250ml Serving" the volume of each bottle being... 500ml. So that's 60% of my RDA in one bottle - ouch.

So how do you define a serving? Does the bottle come with a half-way point to inform you that you have just poured one serving? Nope! Do they intimate that you shouldn't drink all this in one day? Four out of five just tell me to Serve Cool or Store Cool with only Ribena stating "Once you've opened me pop me in the fridge and drink me within 4 days".

Now if you're drinking this on the move, which is how the portable bottle design seems to suggest, who's going to drink half then store the rest away?

Anyway I'm going to have a rest this week-end and go cold-turkey from sugar :-P And that's got nothing to do with the fact I'll be glued to my much missed PS3.


Orphi said...

Yeah, it is kind of amusing when you look at a package of crisps and it contains 25% of your RDA “per 25g serving”. I'm sorry, who the **** buys a packet of crisps and then eats 1/5th of it?! You buy a packet of crisps and eat the whole thing! (Unless it's one of those really big packets, anyway.)

It's a bit like how you go into Tesco and buy a cake that says “serves 4”, and when you open the box, the cake is about the size of a saucer. Serves four… elves?

Most fun thing: Eating a packet of Mr Kippling Viennise Whirls and discovering that I just ate 150% of my RDA for saturated fat. Oops! (That is, 150% assuming I didn't eat anything else all day — a trivially falsifiable assumption…)

Ah, food is great, eh?

What are these RDA figures actually based on anyway? Doesn't it vary depending on your age, gender, level of activity, etc?

FlipC said...

It's that weasel-word "serving" here's a quote from the FSA "remember that the servings won’t always be the same size from brand to brand – and they may also not be the same amount you would eat."

So the definition of serving is...?

As for RDA (aka GDA replaced by DRV that covers EAR, RNI and LRNI; no I'm not making that lot up) this is the amount of nutrient "to meet the needs of about 97% of a group of people". The original values were reported in 1991 in "Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom" by COMA a copy of which can be yours for just £18.

Have a read of this PDF to have all, um some, um a few of your questions answered.