Food labels are found on virtually all packaged foods.
You can use them to gain valuable information about the nutritional quality of packaged foods.
For example, they can tell you:
In Australia, there are two main parts to the label:
The ingredients list is usually found at the bottom of the nutrition information panel.
Ingredients are listed in order from the largest to the smallest amount based on weight of the ingredient.
The major ingredients in a food product are usually listed in the first three ingredients.
For example, in the list below, the main ingredients are water, wheat flour and butter.
The nutrition information panel tells you the following kinds of information:
In the USA, the Nutrition Facts label contains information on:
Understanding food labels takes a bit of practice.
Here's what to look for on the Nutrition Information/Nutrition Fact Label of a packaged food - amounts shown are per 100g of food:
The food is high in fat, sugar or salt if:
Information is presented per serving size (according to manufacturer) and per 100g.
The 100g figure is useful to compare the nutritional content of similar food products.
Ingredients that contain sugar include:
Some misleading food labels include a lot of sugar or fat, disguised on the label by using several different names for sugar or fat.
Flavoring, coloring, and preservatives, including anything labelled ‘artificial’, may have health consequences and should be avoided.
Some foods in Australia don’t have to have a NIP or any sort of food packaging label.
In fact, it could be said that single ingredient foods without labels (like fruit and vegetables) are the healthiest choices because they are unprocessed and have nothing added to them!
Organic foods are those which have been grown without synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, additives, herbicides, genetically modified organisms, irradiation and sewage sludge).
The foods and farms on which they are grown undergo rigorous testing during the certification process.
Organic foods in Australia cannot claim superior nutritional quality.
For processed food products, a minimum of 95% weight/weight of all ingredients excluding salt and water must come from certified organic sources.
In other words, up to 5% of ingredients in Certified Organic products, may be non organic.
This may be the case for ingredients where organic ingredients are not available.
Any non-organic ingredients be permitted for use according to the Standard.
The labels of certified organic foods from various countries carry their own specific logos:
For more information on Australian Food Labels and food label laws, visit:
For more information on Certified Organic Food Labelling in Australia, visit:
For more information on American Food Labelling and laws, visit:
For more information on Certified Organic Food Labelling in America, visit:
(1) Catherine Saxelby, Foodwatch www.foodwatch.com.au
(2) Better Health Channel www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au