On April 29 I wrote Kashi – First Rate Food, Second Rate Info which you can read here.
I emailed them at least six times without success. Then, On June 20, my phone rang and it was a lady from Kashi calling to see if I had been satisfied in my queries. I told her that I appreciated the call, but had not been satisfied at all. I explained that while I loved eating Kashi’s GOLEAN Crunch, I was troubled by the fact that it said one serving was 55 grams or one cup. When I weighed my cupful measurement, the cereal weighed over 100 grams.
The lady, Kathy McGillivray, Manager of Kashi Consumer Communications, gave me a detailed explanation of how the government regulations worked in regard to reporting. Because of the details involved, I asked her to please send it to me in writing.
Following is that letter:
Thank you for your question about how the cereal serving size is determined for Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!® and other cereals. Per our conversation, below is a detailed summary of the process we discussed. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me….
The federal Code of Regulations requires serving sizes for non-discrete bulk products like breakfast cereal to be the amount in household measure that most closely approximates the reference amount for the product category. This standard reference amount is commonly known by the acronym RACC which stands for Reference Amount Customarily Consumed, pronounced like the word rack.
There are two basic steps in the process used to determine labeled serving sizes for cereals:
1. Determine which standard reference amount applies to the product – 30 or 55 gram. A 30 gram reference amount is used for lighter textured cereals like Kashi® Strawberry Fields cereal. A 55 gram reference amount is used for cereals that are more dense, such as Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!® cereal or Kashi® Summer Berry granola.
2. Find the common household measure closest to the reference amount.
The serving size must be expressed using the allowed household measure that is closest to the reference amount or RACC. Allowable household measures include standard cup sizes, i.e. ½ cup, ¾ cup, 1 cup etc. or pieces, i.e. 28 biscuits for a product like Kashi® Cinnamon Harvest® cereal.
For example, the closest RACC for Kashi® Strawberry Fields Cereal is 30 grams and 1 cup weighs 32 grams, so the labeled serving size is 1 Cup, 32g. The closest RACC for Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!® is 55 grams and 1 cup weighs 53 grams, so the labeled serving size is 1 Cup, 53g.
You may be asking how we determined that 1 cup weighs 53 grams for Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!®. This is determined based on the use of a calibrated scale and a large sample size, no less than 30 measurements are taken. The sample is poured into the cup and leveled by selectively removing extra sample out of the container. This is complete when the particle volume above the edge of the container approximately equals the free air space found between sample pieces immediately below the fill line. We do not use more than 75% of the box of cereal to prevent biasing the measurements with fines.
To ensure the most accurate value, we calculate the average measurement across many boxes of cereal and several different people filling the cup. We also calculate the standard deviation and a 95% Confidence Interval around the true average grams per one cup serving.
The weight that you calculated for the 1 cup serving size may have been different than the 53 grams for any number of reasons. The clusters could have been broken down or reduced in size or maybe only one sample from one box was measured, where we measure multiple samples from many different boxes using more than one person pouring the samples. The nutrition label is based on the serving size by weight. Therefore, if you are counting calories and want to be as accurate as possible, consider weighing your cereal in grams with a calibrated digital scale as an option. My emphasis.
I hope this was helpful. Thank you again for contacting us.
Best of Health,
Manager, Consumer Communications
Consumer Affairs Department
I suggested back in January that you ought to have a food scale to really have accurate readings on what you consume. You can read it here.
Finally, I would like to thank Kathy McGillivray for ‘going the extra mile’ and writing out this excellent explanation and putting the matter to rest.
As of Feb 6, 2013: Editor’s note: Because Kashi products contain GMO ingredients, I no longer buy them.