Reading Food labels*

Thursday, 23 July 2015, By Joel Baur

You are at the supermarket doing your grocery shopping staring at a shelf full of products claiming to be healthy and better for you. With labels like that it shouldn't be too hard to make a smart choice right?  After all, it says it all on the label. 

Convinced you have made the healthier choice, you leave the store with products that have the the Heart Foundation Tick and are labelled low fat, no cholesterol, sugar free, low sodium, lean, high protein, baked not fried, light and the list can go on. Does this sound familiar?

 
Let's look a little deeper into some of these terms and find out what they say and what they really mean. Some labels are quite misleading just because the company marketing the product wants to make you buy it. Understanding facts about food labelling can help you shop smarter and see through the clever marketing used on our food.  For example many foods may be labelled as 'light', instantly the first thought would be light in energy. This may not be the case.  The term may refer to the texture, colour or taste of the food.  The Heart foundation tick of approval looks at comparing food.  It may mean it is lower in fat than a comparable product but still contain a considerable amount of fat.

For manufacturers to make various claims, products must meet certain guidelines:

High Protein - Must contain more than 10g per serve

Sugar free - Must contain less than .5g of sugar per serve

Light for fat - 50% less fat than a comparable product

Light for calories - 33% less than a comparable product of 50% less fat

Light for sodium - 50% less than a comparable product

Low fat - 3 or less grams per serve

Low calorie - 40 or less calories per serve

Low sodium - 140 milligrams or less per serve

Low cholesterol - 20 milligrams or less per serve

Healthy - Low in fat, saturated fat and sodium.  Must be 10% of RDA (recommended daily allowance) for Vitamin A, C, Calcium, Iron, Protein or Fibre

Lean - Meat, seafood or game that has, per 3 ounces, less than 5g or total fat, less than 2g of saturated fat and less than 95g of cholesterol.

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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