Food labels are a wealth of information when it comes to making healthy food choices. Food labels should provide you with a list of ingredients as well as any additives or preservatives. The nutritional information of that particular product will also be displayed, such as the fat, protein and sugar content.
The list of ingredients
All the ingredients found in the product must be listed in the list of ingredients from descending order according to weight. In other words, the ingredient that is first on the list is present in the product in the largest proportion. The ingredient listed last is present in the least proportion.
What is the difference between a ‘use by date’ and an ‘expiry date’?
The ‘use by date’ is given purely for health and safety reasons. Those perishable goods such as dairy, meat, fish with carry a ‘use by date’ and must not be sold or used beyond this date.
The ‘best before’ date refers to the quality of food. The food should remain of good quality up until that date, as long as it is stored in the recommended way. Beyond that date, the product will still remain safe to eat, however the taste, nutritional value and quality of the food might be compromised.
Nutrition claims on labels
Nutrition claims on labels are not always what they seem.
- Cholesterol Free: Cholesterol can only be found in animal products and not plant products. It is therefore false advertising when plant based foods state cholesterol free. The label leads you into thinking you are purchasing a healthier product;
- No added sugar: Check the label, fruit sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses are considered a sugar.
Always check the label. It is important to note that 4-5g of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. Therefore if the nutrition label shows that the product has 15g sugar per serving, you know you are consuming 3-4 teaspoons of sugar in that 1 serving.
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