Why check the Label?
As consumers, we need to make wise choices about the food we eat. This is where food labels come in. It can help you make informed decisions towards choosing good nutrition and health.
Knowing how to read food labels also assures you that you are getting more value for your money and protects you from incorrect claims on the product packs.
How do I check the Label?
The Basics of the Food Label
Labels are designed so that consumers are provided with useful information about the product and how this would fit into their daily diets. The following are a big help:
1. Look at the list of ingredients
This gives an overview of the product’s "recipe". Ingredients are arranged from the most to the least amount. If a product lists its ingredients as:
Sugar, Water, Juice Concentrate Artificial Flavor
This means that the bulk of the product is sugar. The ingredient with least amount is juice concentrate
2. Watch the nutrient amounts.
Read the Nutrition Information Label for nutrient amounts. These are given either by per 100g of the product or the Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intake (%RDA, which is based on ICMR nutrient recommendation). This allows you to compare nutrient amounts among different brands of a particular food.
3. Get more value
What's the real cost per serving of a product? Check how many servings you can make from a big pack! There are 2 items you'll need to look at:
- Net Weight is the amount of product inside the pack. This can be found near the bottom of a pack, usually at the front of the packaging
- Serving Size is the amount (usually in grams or millilitres) per serving of a product
Divide Net Weight by Serving Size. This gives you the number of servings in the pack. With the result you get, do you think the pack is worth the price being charged? You may want to pick out a different pack size.
4. Choosing low energy-dense foods
Go for low energy-dense foods. Energy density refers to the ratio of calories to the weight of the food.
Less calories per portion size is generally better for weight management. Eating low energy-dense food will help you feel full because of the relatively bigger portion size, but low caloric amount
Remember to limit your intake of medium and high energy-density foods. If you want to manage your weight, go for lower energy-density foods!
Understand nutrient content claims. They are not always as they seem!
- A zero-calorie product can actually contain up to 4 calories per serving
- A fat-free product can contain up to 0.5 grams of fat per serving
- A low-fat product can have as much as 3 grams for solid products and 1.5g for liquid products
Check the Label!
The Food Label was designed to help people choose foods well.
By knowing how to use it, you can understand how a specific food item can fit into your overall diet.
You can more effectively and efficiently select foods and choose between products. So go ahead, check the label!