meaning of "99% fat free"

I was eating an ice cream bar today and on the front in big letters it said “99% fat free!”. I looked on the back and it said it had one gram of fat in it. I then looked at the net weight and it was 77 grams.

What exactly does 99 percent fat free mean? Does that mean it’s one percent fat? Because that doesn’t sound very good.

Yup, 1% fat. I was annoyed when I first learned it as well.

Seinfeld “What the deal with incredibly low-fat food? You know where it says 99% fat free. So why could they remove 99% of the fat, but not the other 1%?”

Also, that’s 1% fat by weight. The percentage of calories from fat can be a lot higher, making it very misleading for a person on a fat-restricted diet. It also means that manufacturers of certain items - processed meat products, for example - can bulk up the product with water and starches and claim to have lowered the fat content, without doing anything that actually makes it better for you.

Although, if you’ve got an “ice cream” bar that honestly has only 1 gram of fat in it, and that doesn’t taste like frozen cotton balls, I wouldn’t complain too loudly :stuck_out_tongue:

Erm, so what else did you think it meant before?

I think I remember a jam I saw once that added a tiny bit of fat in just so they could claim they were 99% fat free.

Why not leave it out, and say 100% fat free? Seems better to me!

Before I thought about it too much, I used to think it meant the remaining 1% contained fat, not that it necessarily was pure fat.

Grammatically, I think this is a correct interpretation of what “99% fat free” could mean. Of course, we all know it means the remaining 1% is pure fat.

If you’ve ever tasted skim milk and then 1% milk, you’ll know how much of a difference in taste even that 1% can make.

If your grossed out by the 1% in your ice cream think about the 20-30% in your hamburger. 3 part meat, 1 part fat.

If you’re looking for a visual representation, try this. Take a tall glass of water; no fat in that. Drop a big pat of butter into it. Now, it’s 2% fat. That’s still not a heck of a lot of fat, but it’s more dramatic to think of it all in one lump.

That’s a great example because it’s 2% fat by weight (or 98% fat free in ad lingo) but 100% of the calories come from fat.


You guys are really gullible. You probably think 97 percent caffeine free coffee has had 97 percent of the caffeine removed. Regular coffee is generally about six percent caffeine. Take out half of that, and you have “Decaffeinated coffee” that is 97 percent caffeine free.

Whenever you find a mathematical expression used in advertising, remember this: It will be expressed in the way that sounds the most advantageous to the market, and will actually be as close to a lie as the legal department of the corporation can allow.


“As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.” ~ Josh Billings ~

FYI: do you realize that sugar is technically fat free? So it could be LOADED with sugar, still get called FAT FREE, and to top it all off, guess what sugar turns into once processed by the body? It’s all about marketing…

Similarly, whole milk is about 4% fat, which is something I never knew until I decided to find out.

I always thought that 99% fat free meant that if the original product had 10% fat by weight, now it had 0.1% fat by weight. That’s how I understood the label, and I was disappointed to find out what it actually means.

I’d think that the decaf label is justified as long as the caffeine content goes below the effective dose for the majority of people, regardless of percentages.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin. If half of the fat of the original product were removed (say, going from whole milk to 2%), and the label said “50% fat free”, wouldn’t a lot of people get the wrong idea that the product was composed of 50% fat?

I’m certainly not complaining. But what of the back saying one gram of fat and the front saying total of 77 grams? That would be a bit over one percent fat…