Food labels provide valuable information on calories, fat, sugar, fibre and salt content in a product as well as nutrients like calcium, potassium, iron and Vitamin D content.
Labels make it easier for those following therapeutic diets for health conditions or food allergies to select food items suitable for them.
The Nutrition Facts panel on food labels displays information regarding calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein consumption for each serving, along with a listing of its Daily Value as determined using a 2,000-calorie diet as an example.
Reading Nutrition Facts can be an effective way to identify healthier food options. Keep in mind, however, that serving sizes on labels may differ from what is typically eaten – this may also depend on whether the manufacturer has different ideas of what constitutes a serving than you.
Look for “per serving” or “servings per container” when trying to identify how many servings there are in a package. With this information you can compare foods with similar levels of nutrients like sodium or sugar to select the healthiest options. In addition, food manufacturers may include Nutrient Content Claims such as “low sodium” or “high vitamin C.” Though these claims aren’t regulated by the FDA, they’re meant to draw consumers’ attention to any important nutritional aspects about the product that might interest them.
Food labels provide consumers with information on the vitamins, minerals and calories present in a product so that they can avoid unhealthy options that might aggravate certain conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
Food labels can also provide portion control information to prevent people from overeating certain unhealthy items like crisps or chocolate.
Consumers can quickly compare products by reading labels with ingredients listed according to predominance by weight; that means the primary ingredient will typically comprise most of a particular product’s ingredients. Furthermore, characterising components (for instance cocoa solids) can often be indicated. This allows consumers to quickly identify which one best meets their needs.
Nutrient content claims are statements that describe the level of specific nutrients present in a food product, for instance “low fat” or “high fibre.” Sometimes these claims include the percent daily value (%DV) to show how one serving provides 100% of your recommended daily allowance of that nutrient.
All health and nutrition claims must be supported by scientific evidence, including claims about decreasing disease risks through food consumption. For instance, plant sterols can lower cholesterol, while eating plenty of fruits and vegetables reduces your chances of cancer.
Ingredient lists must be presented clearly and weighed, except in cases of compound ingredients (for instance chocolate chip ice cream), which make up less than 5% of the product. Some labels may also feature statements like ‘may contain traces of’ which should apply if an allergen comes into contact with the product during manufacture, packaging or transport.
Country of Origin
Country of origin labelling applies to some foods. It’s mandatory on priority food products grown, manufactured or packed within Australia; any claims regarding country of origin must be true and accurate, backed up by reasonable grounds; otherwise penalties could apply under Australian Consumer Law.
Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations mandate grocery stores and supermarkets to provide their customers with information about the origin of certain food products – such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, peanuts, pecans, ginseng and macadamia nuts. Food processing companies must also abide by COOL requirements; however they may benefit from an exemption when producing frozen mixed vegetables with ingredients from various countries that have been combined in the United States, or use exceptions when creating products with multiple countries of origins.
Trade compliance teams should be involved from the outset of product reviews in order to ensure that any country of origin claims made are compliant.