Common Food Labels and How To Read Them

Common food labels

Written by Aeesha McOseni

October 30, 2020

Every packaged food item comes with a food label, giving different information about the food. Common food labels provide information on what you need to know about that food item. It is important to scan through the food label to equip yourself with information about the food. Furthermore, you can learn about the production date and whether the food is certified.

This article will tell you about common food labels and how to read food labels.

Here’s How to Read Common Food Labels

1. Nutritional Facts

This is a block of information that gives the most detail about the food item. In summary, it tells you all you need to know about the food’s benefits.

This section can be divided into three categories;

a. Serving Facts

This tells you the amount of the stated serving is available in any food item. It is however NOT a recommendation of how much food you should eat. This information is given either in grams, units, etc. 

b. Calories

If you are counting your calories for weight gain or loss, this piece of information is vital for you. The stated amount is the number of calories you would get from each serving about.

For instance, if the label says 230 calories per serving of 1 cup and you consume two cups, then 230X2=460calories is the total amount of calories consumed.

c. Nutrients

This table will show you all the nutrients or some prime nutrients present or absent in that food item. The company may give the figure in microgram(mg) or grams(g). This section is, in fact, vital if you have a deficiency of a nutrient or you are avoiding one. You should know that each value given is for one serving of the food if you are eating more than one servings them multiply as I did above.

Some of the nutrients commonly given include Fat, Sugar, Carbohydrate, Sodium, Fiber, etc.

d. Recommended Daily Value (RDV)

Companies express this piece of information in percentage. It is telling you how much of the servings of that food contributes to your recommended daily diet. Ensure to compare these details with other food will eat during the day to get enough nutrients.

Common Food Labels showing nutritional facts and other details
A common nutritional fact information found in most packaged foods

2. Ingredients

When you look at this section, you see every raw material used to make the food item. Also, preservative, additive, food color, etc. This section will also show you possible allergens. Companies write allergen in bold letters or bright colors.

An ingredients list containing allergy advice

Make sure you check the ingredients of the food item you buy if you are allergic to some raw materials. If you are staying away from preservatives present in food, this is the right section to check.

3. Dates

This section contains the Manufactury Date, Expiry Date, Best Before Dates, etc. These dates tell you when the production and expiry period of your food. Learn more about the difference between the dates and what you should do when your food exceeds its best before date here.

4. Manufacturer Details

This will include the name of the manufacturing company, address, contact details. And details like production license, marketer details, etc.

5. Certification

All food products must come with a certification of some sort for authentication. The most common certification in Nigeria is NAFDAC. Make sure the food item you are buying is NAFDAC-certified to guarantee safety and quality. You can check if your product is certified by NAFDAC on its official site. Halal certificate to confirm that the food item is permissible for consumption for Muslims.

Some other certifications might include MAN, Organic Certification, Vegan or Vegetarian Certification, Animal Cruelty-free Certification, etc. If you follow a type of diet, make sure to check the labels to confirm the authentication from certifying bodies for that diet.

6. Others

These are details that do not fit into any section. For example, the total weight of the food item, cooking instructions, storage advice, etc. 

Food labels are attached to food items for a reason, make sure you read and comprehend them for your safety and those around you.

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