Most countries require that packaged food is labelled in a certain manner, to inform the consumer as to what they are eating.
The information usually appears on the back or side of packaging under the title “Nutrition Facts”. It’s also displayed in grocery stores near fresh foods, like fruits, vegetables, and fish.
The nutrition facts label includes:
A column of information — “% Daily Value” — that shows what portion of the amount of daily recommended nutrients the product provides, based on a 2,000-calorie diet information about total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, fiber, and other nutrients serving size.
Additional information on the food label will include:
1. Content claims, such as “light” or “low-fat,” that must meet strict government definitions so that they are accurate and consistent from one food to another.
2. Health claims, like “While many factors affect heart disease, diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of this disease,” which must meet government requirements for approval
3. An ingredient list.
Manufacturers often make claims about the healthfulness of a food on the front of a package — like “fat-free” or “no cholesterol.”
Reduced fat means that a product has 25% less fat than the same regular brand.
Light means that the product has 50% less fat than the same regular product.
Low-fat means a product has less than 3 grams of fat per serving.
At the top of each food label is an amount listing for serving size. These are determined by the food manufacturer, and they’re based on the amount that people generally eat. All of the information about the nutritional value of the food that is listed on the label is given according to the serving size. So if a serving size is 2 crackers and you eat 4 crackers — which would be two servings — you need to double all of the nutrition information.
The number of servings per container tells you how many serving sizes are in the whole package. So if one serving is 1 cup, and the entire package has 5 cups, there are five servings per package.
Calories From Fat
The second number, calories from fat, tells the total calories in one serving that come from fat. The label lists fat so that people can monitor the amount of fat in their diets.
Dietitians generally recommend that adults consume no more than 30% of calories come from fat over the course of the day. That means that if the food you eat over the course of a day contains 2,000 calories total, no more than 600 of these should come from fat. Children 1-3 years old should get 30%-40% of calories from fat; kids and teens 4-18 years old should get 25%-30% of calories from fat.
Percent Daily Values
Percent daily values are listed in the right-hand column in percentages, and they tell how much of a certain nutrient a person will get from eating one serving of that food. If a serving of a food has 18% iron, then that food is providing 18% of your daily iron needs based on 2,000 calories per day.
Percent daily value is most useful for determining whether a food is high or low in certain nutrients. If a food has 5% or less of a nutrient, it is considered to be low in that nutrient. A food is considered a good source of a nutrient if the percentage is between 10%-19%. If the food has 20% or more of the percent daily value, it is considered high in that nutrient.
The information on food labels is based on an average diet of 2,000 calories per day, but the actual number of calories and nutrients that kids need will vary according to their age, weight, gender, and level of physical activity. (For more guidance, check out the USDA’s MyPlate.)
This number indicates how much fat is in a single serving of food and it’s usually measured in grams. Although eating too much fat can lead to obesity and related health problems, our bodies do need some fat every day.
Fats are an important source of energy — they contain twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrate or protein. Fats provide insulation and cushioning for the skin, bones, and internal organs. Fat also carries and helps store certain vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
But because eating too much fat can contribute to health problems, including heart disease, adults and children over 4 years old should have about 30% of their daily calorie intake come from fat. Children 1 to 3 years old should get 30%-40% of calories from fat