6 Common Labels on Food Products and How to Read Them

6 Common Labels on Food Products and How to Read Them

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 labels on food products to equip yourself with what makes up the food. Furthermore, you could also learn about the production date and whether the food is certified or not.

Common Label on Food Products

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 is divided into three categories:

Serving Facts

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

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 230 x 2 = 460 calories. 460 calories is the total amount of calories consumed.

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.

Do 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 are fat, sugar, carbohydrates, sodium, fiber, etc.

Recommended Daily Value (RDV):

Companies express this piece of information in percentage. It is telling you how much of the servings of that food contribute to your recommended daily diet.

Ensure to compare these details with other food you will eat during the day to get enough nutrients.

2. Ingredients

When you look at this section, you see every raw material used to make the food item. It also contains information on the preservative, additive, food colour, etc.

This section will also show you possible allergens. Companies write allergen in bold letters or bright colours. Make sure you check the ingredients of the food item you buy if you are allergic to some raw material, or if you are staying away from preservatives present in food.

3. Dates

This section contains Manufacture Date, Expiry Date, Best Before Dates, etc. These dates tell you the production and expiry period of your food.

Learn more on the difference between the dates and what you should do when your food exceeds its best before date.

4. Manufacturer Details

This will include the name of the manufacturing company, address, and contact details. It also includes 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, and a Halal certificate to confirm that the food item is permissible for consumption for Muslims.

Some other certifications 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.

Conclusion

Labels on food products are attached to food items for a reason. Make sure you read and comprehend them for your safety and those around you.

What to Do When Your Food Exceeds its Best Before or Expiry Date

What to Do When Your Food Exceeds its Best Before or Expiry Date

Labels on food products are one of the must-haves of packages or processed food. This is to ensure food safety giving the consumer more information on the food e.g. ingredients etc. In this article, I will be focusing on what you should do when your food exceeds its Best Before (BB) date.

Attached to every processed and packaged food item are two dates, the production date and the best before or expiry date. The production date does not cause any confusion but the other two dates do. People misinterpret the two dates leading to unnecessary waste of food. 

What Is the Definition of These Dates and Why Are They Important? 

Expiry Date

It is a less common cautionary date used in the food industry. It states the last day food is safe to eat. Any food beyond the expiry date should be tossed out immediately. Mostly written as EXP.

Best Before Date

It is the most commonly used cautionary date in the food industry. As the name implies, it states the date a food item is best to be consumed by. Foods that have passed their best before dates can be consumed on the condition that their appearance and odour are still agreeable. Bear in mind that this only applies to previously unopened food items. Mostly written as BB or Best Before.

Expiry dates denote food safety, while Best-before dates denote food quality.

Even though best before dates are beginning to sound like good news, it does not mean you have to keep food forever. That is why I’m here to tell you what you should do when your food exceeds its Best Before.

How Long Some Common Food Can Stay Even After the Best Before Date

1. Gala

First on my list for obvious reasons. With a best-before period of just a week after production, they’ve been turned down severally for being “expired” and unsafe to eat. On the contrary, they are still safe to eat. Maybe not at soft or fresh but they’ll still be fit to eat 3 – 4 days after their best-before date.

2. Soft Drinks

As a testimony, I once drank a chilled bottle of La Casera that was 3 months behind its best before date. It tasted the same and I didn’t suffer any complications.

A bottle of soft drink will still be fit to drink 3 months after the best before dates.

3. Canned Foods

Like sardines and Geisha, corned beef, sweet peas, and corns, etc. As long as the cans are not previously opened or pierced, they are still safe to consume as far as 3 months after their best before dates.

4. Jams and Other Condiments

According to Waste and Resources Action Programm (WRAP) in the UK, jams and the likes of it are still fit for consumption3 years after their best-before dates. Anyways, let us bench it lower at 6 months after the best-before date because we have village people.

Furthermore, WRAP cautions on ensuring that the seal on the jams has been firmly intact.

5. Biscuits and other snacks

These are also safe for consumption up to 3 months after their best-before dates.

With the intention to reduce food waste, please bear in mind that food safety is paramount. Ensure checking the labels on the food products to confirm it is the Best Before date and not Expiry date.

If the packaging is still intact and the appearance and odour are agreeable to common sense, only then should you consume food after their best-before dates.

Once again, under no circumstances should you consume any food past its Expiry date!

So here you go. I hope you now know what you should do when your food exceeds its Best Before. Tell me if you have any concerns in the comment box!

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