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Know What You're Eating

July 18, 1991|CAROLINE LEMKE

Currently in California there are four ice cream products that are defined by the state legislature--ice cream, ice milk, light dairy dessert and frozen yogurt.

Fat content is the primary difference between these frozen treats, said Bob Boynton, executive director of the Dairy Institute of California in Sacramento.

Premium and super premium are names given by the ice cream industry to describe quality, Boynton said. The terms reflect the density and the increased levels of milk fat of a product and perhaps expensive or exotic flavoring ingredients, but there is no legal basis to any of the terms, he said.

"Generally speaking, the quality of the product serves as a fairly effective regulator," Boynton said. "If there is too much air in a product, it doesn't taste good, it doesn't have good mouth feel. But clearly the density of the product is related to the calories."

Ice cream must have at least 10% fat to be legally called ice cream, Boynton said. Ice milk must have a minimum of 2% fat and a maximum of 7%. Light dairy dessert's minimum fat content is 5% and it cannot exceed 7%.

Most frozen yogurts contain about 3 1/2% fat, Boynton said. Frozen yogurts labeled low fat cannot exceed 2% fat, whereas nonfat yogurts will not contain more than one quarter of 1% milk fat.

A consumer can get bleary-eyed looking for fat percentages on the packaged labels of ice cream and other frozen desserts. Fat content is broken down into grams rather than percentages, but they still provide a good comparison to other products.

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