Coke Expands Nutrition Label To Actually Make Sense

I hate it when I’m eating a bunch of crackers and I look on the box and the serving size is like “3 crackers” and all the calories and nutrition info are based on this absurdly small number. So I was glad to turn over my bottle of Coke and see that they were including both a “Standard Serving” and a “This Package” label. On the left it shows how many calories and such are in a regular can. On the right it shows how much is in the bottle. It’s nice that there’s a comparison. It’s also nice that they’re not giving the nutrition info as if someone was going to drink from the bottle at two and a half different meals. Let’s see this spirit of packaging transparency leveraged across the entire food industry.

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  1. Trevor says:

    This is an awesome move, I always get so pissed off when you get something like a bottle of soda or a muffin and it’s 3 servings…though I honestly think selling things in a proper portioned size would be better, at least this is a positive step.

  2. dmartinez says:

    I so wish that every company would do that. I go shopping with my wife and I tried to figure out how healthy some items where. Some bags of chips label the package as having 50 servings. Now I have to take 50 and multiply it against each item down the list but since some say 0gm there is no way for me to know if it goes over the 0gm etc….. and I also remember an article that companies keeping increasing the serving size to get around some federal law but forgot which one.

  3. SOhp101 says:

    I think I’ve started to see this on chip bags quite awhile ago. Good to see that these companies are finally showing consumers what they’re really drinking. But, in the case for soda, that justifies selling the 16.9 (.5L) size for the same price since it’s fewer calories.

  4. shan6 says:

    Serving sizes have always bothered me as well. Hopefully more companies fallow suit, or maybe we could get some strict regulations on labeling practices.

  5. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Ben, I notice the same black kitty seems to be following you around. Watch your back, as Halloween is right around the corner.

  6. ouphie says:

    Kudos to Coke for this move, boo to the average American who can’t do simple math to figure out what they are actually consuming.

    While I was in college, a nursing friend of mine had to conduct a survey for her nutrition class on labeling versus consumption. I was amazed to see that nearly 45% of teh students surveyed didn’t connect number of servings for a container to the total amount of calories/fat/protein. Goes to show that the perceived intellegence of engineering students doesn’t necessarily reflect reality.

  7. MikeB says:

    @dmartinez: If I remember correctly companies decrease the serving size to get around reporting some things. An example that was used to illustrate this was Thin Mints (Girl Scout Cookies), not sure of the exact numbers but a serving size used to be 5 cookies but it has recently been lowered to 2 or 3 cookies. And now they can list on the label that there are 0 grams of Trans Fat per serving since anything lower than .5 per serving can equal 0.

  8. SadSam says:

    Love it. Also, the last time I ate at McD’s (I was on the road, ugh!) my egg mcmuffin had nutrition info listed right on the wrapper.

  9. foghat81 says:

    can i have your coke rewards points? :)

  10. TurboWagon00 says:

    This is a triumph for the math- and common-sense challenged of Uhmrrica. Really people, is it that hard to figure out ? 2.5 servings per bottle, 100 calories per serivng..is… is. … wait for it… 250 (empty) calories ! Hoorrayyy. I am so smrt.

  11. louisb3 says:

    I would’ve expected Coke to intentionally put a prime number of servings into a package, just to make figuring the total number of calories mentally more difficult.

  12. Schmee says:

    I seem to recall that liquid serving sizes are forced to be 1 cup (8 oz.). Hence the standard serving size among most pops (sodas for you other silly people). Mind you, I don’t know a single red-blooded american who only drinks things 8 oz at a time. A can of pop alone is 12 oz (not 8 as suggested in this post). Still, kudos to Coke! (better than pepsi any day!)

  13. noktulo says:

    In response to Turbowagon’s comments, this isn’t really about whether or not someone should be able to figure out how many calories they’re drinking, it’s about a company going out of their way to be completely transparent about the contents of their product without anyone forcing them to.

    It’s a good move on Coke’s part. :)

  14. bravo369 says:

    Finally a company with some smarts and others should follow suit. I always thought it was stupid that a box of cookies had nutritional information for a serving size of 2 cookies. I mean, seriously…who eats ONLY 2 cookies.

  15. llcooljabe says:

    This won’t expand to other products, since most foods reduce serving size until transfats = 0.

  16. @TurboWagon: THAT’S not so hard, but what about 1.7 grams of fat times 4.5 servings, in your head? Or whatever. Most of the numbers are not so nice and round!

  17. gafpromise says:

    @noktulo: Amen to that! This isn’t about America’s deplorable math skills. It’s all about psychology. People are mentally lazy; and will make snap decisions based on incomplete information. If people (who care enough to read nutrition labels) see a smaller number, they’re more likely to consume more. If they see a bigger number, it makes them think twice about consuming the whole thing. That could lead to less sales for Coke, and I’d be willing to bet that’s one of the reasons so few companies are doing this.

  18. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    href=”#c2807724″>gafpromise: Word. To be honest, I never noticed the ‘serving size’ until I joined Weight Watchers. I mean, you see an individually packaged bottle of soda and you think it’s just an individual serving. It’s not like they have lines on the bottle delineating how much is 8 oz. Mental laziness indeed!

  19. UpsetPanda says:

    My parents bought a bag of Italian cookies the other day, and contrary to the picture of the wafer cookies on the front of the package, the actual cookies were maybe a 1 inch square by 1 inch high. I looked on the nutrition label and found out that it was 75% cream filling (which is a TON if you’re talking about a 1 inch wafer cookie), and that it was 160 calories – for THREE cookies.

    Needless to say, we decided to give them to someone else. 160 calories for 3 inches of creamy coconutty goodness? No thanks.

  20. lihtox says:

    There is an advantage to having standard serving sizes: it allows you to compare the nutritional value of different foods, even if they come in different size containers. If one brand of ice cream lists “120 calories” and the other lists “200 calories”, I know the second one is less “healthy” (for certain definitions of healthy) because the serving size of ice cream is standardized to half a cup.

    This Coke label gives you the best of both worlds: a standardized measurement for comparison, and a full-package measurement to tell you how much you will be ingesting. Kudos to them.

  21. wishlish says:

    *65 g of sugar*???? Holy crap. No wonder I lost so much weight when I quit drinking soda.

    Here’s a hint for those of you that need caffeine and don’t drink coffee- Vitamin Water Yellow. Plenty of caffeine, and only 14 g of sugar. Plus some actual vitamins, and it doesn’t taste like battery acid.

  22. Framling says:

    I have a can of cooking spray at home that lists a serving size as being 1/3 of a second of spray, so they can get some of their numbers low enough to count as zero.

  23. UpsetPanda says:

    Tea is pretty low in calories as well, I imagine. I suspect that a lot of people start gaining weight near holiday season not only because of the food, but also because of all the hot chocolate. It’s yummy, but oh so fattening and satisfying. Low fat hot chocolate just kind of tastes like a chunk of hersheys dipped in water.

  24. adamondi says:

    I have seen this sort of “Math Done For You” label showing up on a lot of different products over the last couple of years. On one hand, it is nice that they are disclosing the whole calorie situation on the label…. On the other hand, it is really sad that people can’t or won’t just do the simple multiplication math on their own.

  25. liquisoft says:

    This reminds me: Why isn’t there a Daily Recommended Intake for sugar? We all know too much sugar can cause serious problems just like too much sodium or trans fat can. So why isn’t there a set intake level?

  26. Juliekins says:

    @llcooljabe:

    This won’t expand to other products, since most foods reduce serving size until transfats = 0.

    Actually, they reduce them to .49g per serving. Anything below half a gram can be rounded down to zero. That’s why you’ve still got to keep an eye out for words like “partially hydrogenated” on the label, since they might be slipping some trans fats in on you without notifying you.

    The bottles that come out of the soda machines where I work have had the 8 oz/this package labeling for quite a while. I love it. More companies should do this. While they’re at it, restaurants should do this too. :P

  27. @liquisoft: I’m guessing it’s because you don’t need sugar at all. How would you express what percent 27 grams is of 0?

  28. The new label is awesome, btw, I meant to have that in my comment.

  29. Murph1908 says:

    The numbers in the second column are inconsistent with the serving sizes and with each other.

    100 x 2.5 is 250, not 240 (actual ratio 2.4:1)
    35 x 2.5 is 87.5, not 75. (actual ratio 2.1:1)
    27 x 2.5 is 67.5, not 65 (actual ratio 2.4:1)

  30. KJones says:

    @adamondi: People shouldn’t have to count or calculate while in a store. If people are counting anything while shopping, it’s a rough tally of the total cost in the basket. Imagine if the labels on software didn’t tell you what operating system and memory it needs; that’s the situation we have now with food labels.

    It’s about damned time that companies did this. For some products like cookies, it’s easy to stop at a “serving size” of 2-4. Other products that list the number of items that you usually wouldn’t count (eg. tortilla chips, spoons of salad dressing) it could be annoying to keep track of for calories, but at least it’s possible.

    But seeing a “serving size” that is 40% of the product’s contents is lying and salesmanship, not real information. For any product that people would entirely eat in one sitting (eg. a can of soup, a hot dog) the “nutritional information” should should be realistic, not a lie told to make the product seem “healthy”.

  31. morganlh85 says:

    @Murph1908: Ever hear of ROUNDING, dude?

  32. pretorious says:

    Ugh. A bit of reasoning is needing when referring to serving sizes. They are not set by the food manufactures them selfs, but by the FDA to provide a standard for comparison between food products. Thats why coke and pepsi have the same serving size as do all cereals. That way Suzie Shopper can make quick comparisons between two brands of the same food type. Thats not to say that money isn’t being pocketed to make the serving sizes a little smaller… but coca cola ultimately has no control

  33. wring says:

    I only have a problem with this when it comes to nuts. Then again, 2.5 x 100 isn’t 240 so this must be the new Nutritional Facts Math.

  34. skrom says:

    I would rather just see them make the serving size a reasonable size rather than make ridiculously complicated labels. Nobody eats standard serving sizes. They make them intentionally small so they can put low in fat and or calories on the label. If you actually went by the serving size then a Tombstone frozen pizza would serve 4 people and they would be stuffed. But as we all know a tombstone pizza MIGHT serve 2 people but most people can eat the whole thing.

  35. jaredharley says:

    @morganlh85: Except that in this case, with the second line, you’re looking at a 16% error. That’s not rounding, that’s bad math.

  36. jaredharley says:

    And what’s even weirder, is that their 8oz ml measurement is off, but not the full bottle:

    1 US fluid ounce = 29.5735297 ml
    8 US fluid ounces = 236.588238 ml
    20 US fluid ounces = 591.470594 ml

    Bottle states:
    8 fl oz = 240ml

  37. gte910h says:

    @FRAMLING

    Cooking spray companies are ballsy. Their product is just fat! And they have the nerve to lower the serving size enough to make it “fat free”.

    –Michael

    PS: It does have some surfactant in it to make it coat a surface easier, so less is required than the same amount of non-areosolized oil. But it’s still 99% fat.

  38. Eric1285 says:

    I always figured that if you couldn’t multiply things by 1.5 or 2.5, you had more serious issues than worrying about your caloric intake.

  39. BigNutty says:

    Look, it’s not so much trying to figure out the numbers, consumers want to take a quick look while shopping and the eyes go directly to calories and fat content.

    Serving size usually is not noticed until after you get home.

  40. uricmu says:

    Maybe I’m a complete idiot, but can somebody explain to me how 1 serving has 100 calories but 2.5 servings has 240?

    Similarly, how does 35g of sodium at 2.5 servings become 75g?

  41. SOhp101 says:

    @uricmu: It’s because Nutrition label guidelines allow for rounding so they can have pretty numbers.

    General rule of thumb:
    1g of carbohydrate = 4 kcal, or 4 Calories
    1g of protein = 4 kcal, or 9 Calories
    1g of fat = 9 kcal, or 9 Calories

  42. Honus says:

    This one has been a long time coming. I wouldn’t say so if people didn’t genuinely appear not to consider that a package is more than one serving.

    But more importantly, a 20 oz bottle of coke is a serving. No one drinks 8 oz and puts the rest back.

  43. smallestmills says:

    @Honus:

    I think I’m the only person in the U.S. who only drinks 8oz or less of pop (I’m from Detroit, it’s pop, not soda) at a time. I’m always getting made fun of for leaving 2/3 bottles of Pepsi around the office at work, eventually throwing them out, or leaving a 1/3 full can around the house. I’m also really petite. I’m pretty sure people who weigh 100 lbs just aren’t designed to eat full bottles of pop (or entire McDonald’s meals.)

  44. cabinaero says:

    @SOhp101:
    You’re close with your rounding statement but it’s not to make pretty numbers — it’s to maximize legibility and present a reasonable amount of information to the consumer. There is absolutely no reason why a consumer would need to know the amount of sugar in a serving down to the nearest hundredth of a gram. It just doesn’t serve as a reasonable basis for comparison and can decrease the legibility of more important information (i.e., the nutrient, % rda and measure to a rounded tenth of a gram).

  45. nardo218 says:

    an 8 ounce serving =/= a 12 ounce can. 8 ounces (1 cup) is a standard serving size of any drink.

  46. 5h17h34d says:

    But they still don’t list the caffeine! Bastards.

  47. SOhp101 says:

    @cabinaero: I was being facetious. Nearly all food companies round off their calorie amounts to the nearest tenth digit. So, in a way, they really do it for the sake of the nice zero at the end.

  48. AD8BC says:

    You know, math skills like dividing are usually taught in elementary school….

    Hey, if it tastes good it’s probably bad for you. That’s how I roll.

    I miss the old “Nutrition Information per Serving” labels that we used to have. It taught me math skills as I read the cereal box in the morning.

  49. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    What are you lazy!? Cant do a little math? SHeesh. How about Coke send a person to read the label for you.

    Be responsible for yourself and your choices.

  50. nmuconsumerist says:

    This labeling style used on more products could make things a hella-lot more convenient for diabetics who need to count carbs and dose their insulin accordingly.

    Being a diabetic, I’ve experienced this convenience first-hand.

    Not that a diabetic should be drinking regular Coke. But still…it’s nice.

  51. aikoto says:

    Math hell. No one should have to worry about figuring out the actual numbers on a single person container! It shouldn’t even be legal for companies to count it as more than one serving on products like that!

    I mean, 2 servings on a small package of dried ramen noodles!? That is so bogus!

  52. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Because I can’t be bothered to multiply something by 2.5. Give me a @#%$&*% break.

  53. Huntergreene says:

    A Friend brought me back some Curly Wurlys back from England and I noticed everything he brought back was labeled like this. I thought it was a Brit thing.

  54. vladthepaler says:

    Wow. Yay Coke. Nice to see a company showing a little common sense. (Though in their defense, I think “serving sizes” are beyond the control of the companies; they have to do the 2/5 of a bottle crap.)

  55. synergy says:

    Sorry, I agree that doing some multiplication isn’t that hard. And if you’re eating more than 3-5 cookies, there’s a problem already. Like someone else said, the standardized serving size is a good thing. Not everyone eats the same number of cookies or tubs of ice cream or whatever.

  56. mrearly2 says:

    The thing that makes the most sense: Don’t drink soft drinks.

  57. Her Grace says:

    This is done on Aussie packaging…sort of. Everything is metric here, first, so we’re working in grams or mililitres, not ounces. Every package has the nutrition and kilojoule information (by the way–kilojoules are evil and I cannot comprehend them in comparison to calories, no matter how many times I look up the conversion) for the serving size, whatever that may be, and a 100g/ml portion. So you can compare between two brands, which might have different sizes of both box and portion, which is pretty awesome.

    Sadly, they have NOT embraced the concept of giving me the price/gram or ml (like price/oz) on the price tags in grocery stores. Since I learned to comparison shop that way in the US, I find it really difficult to effectively comparison shop if I’m in a hurry–if I have time to do the math for the total quantity to price ratios for similar products, fine, but it’s obnoxious.

  58. SuzaBoxcar says:

    14 g of sugar is about 3.5 teaspoons. Not sure this is what we need to be drinking, either. How about PLAIN WATER!

  59. Murph1908 says:

    @morganlh85:
    Uh, yeah. But I have never heard of rounding 240 to 250. Or 87.5 to 75.