Food is our fuel, and therefore it’s good to be aware of what we are putting inside ourselves. Here we look at what information should be available on any food product we buy, and some things we need to keep an eye out for on these labels.
There are some mandatory labels and information that by law, food manufacturers must display on their food packaging. These include; the name of the food or drink, a list of ingredients, a best before or use by date and storage conditions. For a full list of mandatory and optional food labels you can visit: https://bit.ly/1k4jwBF
Common allergens such as nuts, wheat and eggs must stand out in the ingredients list, such as in a bold text or underlined, however keep in mind this doesn’t include all allergens.
Most pre-packaged foods require mandatory nutrition labelling. This includes displaying energy values, fat (of which saturated) protein, carbohydrates (of which sugar), salt. There is also a list of nutrients which are voluntary to declare, including quantities of mono/poly unsaturated fats and fibre.
Interestingly, some aspects of nutrition such as trans fats and cholesterol are on neither the mandatory or voluntary list of nutritional components to declare, and therefore information on these aren’t found on nutrition labels.
We are used to seeing all kinds of from of pack nutrition labelling, often using traffic light colours to indicated levels of certain nutrients and pie charts. Front of pack nutrition labelling is voluntary of a food manufacturer, and is there to help the consumer make an informed decision when picking foods.
This can come as either per 100g or per portion. This can cause confusion when buying an item meant for 2 or more portions, yet only displaying the nutritional information of one portion. We see a similar issue when looking at some drink products. For example a can of fizzy drink is usually 330ml, and if often drank by one person in one sitting, however the nutritional information may only relate to 100ml of the beverage.
For a portion of fruit or vegetable to be classed as one of your 5-a-day it should weigh 80g. If this is met, often a food packaging will have a label similar to one of these:
Final message : There’s so much information on our food products that sometimes it can be a challenge to understand the key messages. Hopefully after reading this you have a better insight into what to look out for when doing your food shop and have more confidence in understanding the labels!