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Snack maker questions validity of net carb counting

Followers of low carbohydrate diets are being deceived by net carb counting and labelling, according to an industry figure who believes food manufacturers could be held liable for misleading claims.

With food producers scrambling to differentiate their products by claiming the lowest carb counts, net carb counting has become commonplace. Net carb counting breaks carbs down into those that pass quickly into the bloodstream (bad) and those that don?t (good). ?Good carbs? such as glycerine and sugar alcohols that don?t significantly raise blood sugar levels are deducted from the total carbohydrate content, leaving the net carb amount—the figure that is flagged on the label.

It?s a system that has no grounding in science, according to Chip Marsland, CEO of Massachusetts-based low carb snack maker Betafoods. ?These net carb claims are totally unproven, drug-like and not accurate. To me this equals liability.?


A typical example is Atkins Nutritionals UK?s Morning Shine Apple Crisp Breakfast Bar, which carries a prominently displayed ?3 net carbs? logo on its packaging. In small print it states: ?For those counting their carbohydrates, count only 3 grams of the 9.4 grams of the carbohydrates in this product. Subtract polyols, maltitol (3.8g) and glycerine (2.6g), which have a minimal impact on blood sugar.?

?Hiding (deducting) carbs to sell food is equivalent to the tobacco industry hiding the true perils of smoking,? Marsland said. ?But this is more in your face. Take starch—it has a caloric value, is broken down by acid, and is converted to sugar via acid hydrolysis—but they are deducting it.?

Atkins reps disagree. ?Those carbs that don?t impact blood sugar don?t count as carbs,? said Dr Stuart Trager, an Atkins lifestyle consultant. ?They can be consumed without the negative effect on weight and health. We?ve conducted clinical testing on all our own products to back this up.?

Net carb counting is not sanctioned by the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Union or the Food Standards Agency of Australia and New Zealand.

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