Chia, nut snack claims and marketing missteps

A chia importer and snack food company professes commitment to transparency in its nutrition labels/claims, then misstates calcium content, omits required omega-3 labeling, and misleadingly describes the common sweetener, maltodextrin.

 

Sample packages of these sweetened nut and chia snacks at a trade show displayed 40% DV for calcium, which is impossible given the 1 oz portion size and ingredients. A new label shows 5% DV. On their website, and then repeated in various product review/rating sites, claims about omega-3 content are made, but there is no omega-3 showing in the Nutrition Facts label (required when making a claim). Maltodextrin is an ingredient, and the website says this is for "quick energy" and that it is a "complex carbohydrate." If it provides "quick energy," it isn't a very complex carbohydrate, and in fact maltodextrin is simply glucose in a short chain that breaks down and as absorbed almost as rapidly as pure glucose (aka blood sugar). But conveniently, for labeling purposes, maltodextrin is not considered a "sugar" (because it has more than 2 molecules, even though it is absorbed at least as quickly as a disaccharide such as sucrose, aka table sugar). Hence, manufacturers can show a lower sugar content on the nutrition label, even though the glycemic index of maltodextrin is higher than table sugar (not that the GI matters when the product has fiber, fat and protein to slow down the absorption of the sugars/carbs). It is a good-tasting, fairly well-balanced product nutritionally, but the marketing and labeling are misleading at best. The product was developed by a doctor.

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