Food labels

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Almost all packaged foods are required to display a Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) on the packet. The information included on the NIP must meet government standards, so you can be sure that the information is reliable. 

Nutrition information panels and ingredients lists are a good way of comparing similar foods so you can choose the healthiest one.

How to read a food label

Nutrition information panels always list:

  • energy (kilojoules)
  • protein
  • fat (total) 
  • saturated fat 
  • carbohydrate (total)
  • sugars
  • sodium.

Other nutrients like vitamins and minerals, fibre and other types of fat (unsaturated, trans, cholesterol) can also be listed.

How to compare products

Look at the food as a whole rather than deciding based on just 1 nutrient alone.

The quantity per 100 g or ml column is best when comparing different brands of similar products.

The 'per serving' column allows you to understand the amount of nutrients you might be eating when you serve out that specific portion of the food.

It’s important to keep in mind that the ‘per serving’ value varies depending on the type of food and the brand. It doesn’t necessarily mean you eat the serve size specified on the pack. 

Six steps to good heart health

Following these simple steps lets you cut down on unhealthy fats, sugar and salt easily.

Fat

Use the per 100 g or 100 ml column to compare similar products to choose the option with less saturated fat. Trans fat is often not listed on the nutrition information panel.

Avoid foods with ‘partially hydrogenated’ vegetable oil or vegetable fat listed in the ingredients list.

Avoiding foods like bakery goods (sausage rolls, meat pies, cakes, biscuits) also helps to limit your trans fat intake.

Learn about adding healthy fats to your diet.

Sodium (salt)

When you read the Nutrition Information Panel, it is important to remember that the salt content of the food product will be listed as “sodium”. 

To compare the sodium content of two similar products, you should read the “Per 100g” column of the NIP. 

To choose a “low salt” food product, select one that has less than 120mg of sodium per 100g. 

Remember that eating too much sodium can put you at risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease, so it’s important to know how to read the NIP so that you can choose a “low sodium” product

Read about salt alternatives you can use to flavour food.