How To Read Food Labels
Part 1 - Label Reading
While ideally our diets are based around fresh whole foods, at times packaged foods are included in our diet. Food labels provide us with a wealth of information to help us decide if a food or drink is suitable to consume or not. But it does mean spending longer in the supermarket initially to work through it all.
To save time check the labels of food you already have in the cupboard before visiting the supermarket. Alternatively, choose one or two types of food to investigate at a time. Information on labels can be small and difficult to read. Taking reading glasses or a magnifying glass may help.
All food packages are legally required to have a nutrition information panel (NIP) and a list of ingredients. The NIP and list of ingredients are not always on the same section of the label. Labels may also include nutritional claims.
The following information will help you work out what it all means and how you can use it to choose healthy food items.
Nutrition Information Panel
A NIP is required to provide nutrient content per serve and per 100g.
Specific nutrient information provided includes:
! Energy content (in kilojoules and sometimes calories)
! Protein content
! Fat and saturated fat content
! Total carbohydrate
! Sugar content
! Sodium (salt) content
! Any nutrient about which a claim has been made e.g. “good source of calcium’ requires calcium included in the NIP
Some products also provide information on the fibre content but are not legally required to do this.
Some foods provide nutrient information on different serving presentations such as breakfast cereals served with milk.