There is a lot of information on food labels and at times it can be difficult to determine if a product is healthy or not.
There are 3 types of information on a food label that you can use to help you make a healthy choice:
- Ingredients list
- Nutrient claims or nutrition messages
- Nutrition information panel.
Fresh fruit and vegetables do not have labels but should be included regularly in your diet on a daily basis.
Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. The first ingredient on the list is present in the largest amount, and the last is present in the smallest amount. You will find that things like sugar, fat and salt often have different names on an ingredient list. The table below gives some of their alternative names:
|Fat||Oil, shortening, tallow, lard, dripping, cream, copha, milk solids, monoglycerides, diglycerides, |
|Salt||Sodium, rock salt, vegetable salt, MSG, yeast extract, stock cube, baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, booster.|
|Sugar||Sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, lactose, malt extract, molasses, syrup, |
monosacharides, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, modified carbohydrate.
|Claim||What it means?|
|Low joule / diet||Product is usually low in fat or sugar and often |
|No added sugar||No sugar has been added to the product – but may |
contain other sugars such as lactose (in milk
products, fructose in fruit).
|Light / lite||Can mean reduced in fat, salt or sugar – but can also mean “light” in colour. You will need to check what |
the “light” is referring to.
|Reduced fat||The total fat content of the product has been reduced by 25% compared to the original/regular product. Reduced fat does not necessarily mean low fat.|
|Low fat||Has no more than 3g fat per 100g, for solid food. Or1.5g fat per 100g for liquid.|
|Fat free||Total fat of less than 0.15g per 100g of food.|
|Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated||These are the preferred fats if looking to avoid |
increases in cholesterol levels. They are still fat and
contain the same amount of energy as saturated fats – if you are watching your weight you will need to
ensure that your intake of these is kept low.
|Cholesterol free||Means there is no cholesterol – however cholesterol only occurs in animal products – so plant products |
labelled cholesterol free is misleading. Low
cholesterol does not always mean low fat.
|Natural, fresh or real||There is no standard meaning for these terms – nice |
for advertising. Wise to check nutrition information
panel for content of sugar, fat and salt.
|No added salt||Check the nutrition information panel – the food may still contain some salt naturally.|
|Salt reduced||The salt content has been reduced by 25% compared to the original/regular product. Reduced salt does |
not necessarily mean low salt.
|Low sodium or salt reduced||Contains less than 120mg sodium per 100g.|
|High fibre||Has more than 3g of dietary fibre per serving. If |
product contains 6g of fibre per serving it can be
labelled “very high in fibre”.
|Gluten free||Contains no detectable gluten – for people with |
|Low GI (Glycaemic Index)||If the product has the low GI symbol it indicates that the Glycaemic Index of the product as been |
measured by an approved facility. Must be low GI
and consistent with dietary guidelines for Australians – low in saturated fat, low /moderate in sodium and where appropriate a source of dietary fibre.