Reading food labels can provide you with information on healthier food products as well as help you decipher the nutrient claims that may be present on food packaging.

What’s on a Food Label?

There are seven components of a food label.

​​​Food labels provide nutrition facts and information.

  • Date Marking: This would be the “Use By”, “Sell By”, and “Best Before” date.
  • Product Name: This tells you what the food is.
  • Net Weight: This is the actual weight of the food excluding the packaging.
  • Ingredient List: This shows, in descending order by weight, all the ingredients that make up the product.
  • Nutrition Information: This panel shows the nutrients found in 1 serving or 100g / 100ml of the food.
  • Usage Instructions: These are instructions on storage or usage of the food
  • Manufacturer’s Details: This includes the name and address of the manufacturer, importer or distributor.

Related: Reading Food Labels—Making Sense of the Fine Print

The Ingredient List on Food Labels

Besides knowing that ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, know that some ingredients (such as fats and oils, salt and sugar) may be named differently in different ingredient lists.

Related: Getting the Fats Right

The Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) Provides Nutritional Facts

Nutrition labels provide information on protein, fat and cholesterol on food packaging.

The NIP of a product provides information on the nutritional value of the product. This includes energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, dietary fibre and sodium content. In addition, other nutrient values may be included in any specific claims that have been made.

It also advises what is the serving size and servings per package.

The Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) For Healthier Eating

Healthier food choices can be easily identified by looking out for the Healthier Choice Symbol. Products carrying the HCS are generally lower in saturated fat, sodium, sugar and higher in dietary fibre, calcium, and wholegrains compared to similar products within the same food category. You can find out more about the HCS here!

​​​Food packaging with the healthier choice label adhere to a balanced diet.

Related: Make a Healthier Choice Today!

Nutrient Claims Are Not Nutrition Facts

Ensure that you get your nutrition facts right.

Examples of claims include “high in fibre”, “light”, “reduced-fat” or “cholesterol-free”. All products with nutrient claims are required to put up a NIP for consumers to refer to. As such, always refer to the NIP as the claims do not specify the actual amount of nutrients present.

For example: “No added sugar” may not necessarily mean no sugar.

Remember, be an informed shopper. Read the labels and follow the Healthy Diet Pyramid to help you achieve a balanced diet!

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