Food labels are a useful source of information. Learning to read and understand food labels can help you select healthier products.
here are a number of items you will find listed on food labels. To decide which products are better choices, it is useful to read the Ingredient list and the Nutrition Information Panel. Both the ingredient list and the Nutrition Information Panel are found on all packaged foods.
A useful link: http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm274593.htm
The ingredient are listed in descending order of quantity. The ingredient listed first is present in the largest amount. If fat or sugar is present early in the list, the product is likely to be high in fat or sugar. Be aware of other names for fat and sugar.
Other names for sugar include:
Any name ending in “ose” or “ol” or “syrup”, honey.
Other names for fat include:
Any oil, dripping, lard, coconut oil, copha, milk solids, cream, oven fried, baked, monoglycerides or diglycerides.
Nutrition Claims on Labels.
Nutrition claims can be useful, but be sure you understand what they mean. For example:
“low cholesterol” or “cholesterol free” – all this means is the product is low in cholesterol, not that it is healthy in terms of the kind of fat, or is low in fat
“reduced fat” – the fat content is reduced from the original product, but may still not be low in fat
“low fat” – contains less than 3% fat. Generally considered to be a low fat product
“light” or “Lite” – can refer to the flavour, texture, colour or weight and may have nothing to do with fat content
“no added sugar” – this does not mean no sugar. The food may contain sugar as a natural ingredient, but just not have extra sugar added to it.
Statements on labels
“baked not fried” – Although this implies the product is low in fat it is generally not low in fat.
To be absolutely sure of what packaged food you are buying for your child, always check the ingredient list and the Nutrition Information Panel.