Food labels can seem a little daunting to understand, but if you want to know exactly what you are eating , it is important to know what you are looking at. Our experienced dietitians
have put together these guidelines to help decipher the jargon.
- The ingredients on labels are listed in order by weight, so ingredients higher on the list are present in larger amounts than ingredients lower down.
- Food labels cannot include any nutrition claims such as “salt-reduced” or “low-fat” unless a nutrition information panel is on the packaging.
- Don’t be tricked by the following claims:
- Cholesterol Free – food without cholesterol may still be high in other types of fat;
- Lite – “lite” could mean light in texture, colour or flavour. Legally it does not have to be lighter in kilojoules or fat, although it may be. Read the nutrition panel carefully;
- Baked not fried – although it sounds healthier, it still may contain just as much fat;
- Fat Free – just because it is fat-free doesn’t mean all the ingredients are healthy. Some fat-free foods contain higher amounts of sugar than the same products without the claim;
- Health Food – there is no legal definition of health food. Products with these labels may still contain as much fat, sugar and salt as other products with regular labels.
- Always compare the amount of fat and salt between different products using the “per 100g/ml”. As a general rule, look for products which provide less than 10g of fat per 100g and less than 120mg of salt per 100g.