Nutrition facts on food labels

When you buy something in the grocery, do you stop for a few seconds to read the back of the labels of the foods you buy? Reading food packaging and labels can be beneficial to your meal planning. Not only do manufacturers list the macronutrients such as fiber, carbohydrates, protein and fats on the back labels, they also include the vitamin and mineral contents of the foods. This helpful information will aid you to meet your daily nutritional needs. Thus, as an informed consumer, the knowledge about the nutritional content of the product will benefit you because now you know how you can properly represent a certain nutrient into your meal.

Nutrition Facts Labels
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responded to the need of the consumers to know the nutritional content of products through the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (1990). The guidelines can help consumers make smart decisions with regard to nutrition.

Now that you know what a food label is, the next question would be how to understand what is written in the food label. What should you look for in the label? It is expressedly said in the act that all packaged food products should contain the product’s common name, the manufacturer’s name and address, the net count, measure or weight of the product, the nutrition facts, and list of ingredients used.

Parts of a Nutrition Facts Column
Nutrition Facts – This is a required field for all nutrition fact panels. It should list the most common nutrients found in the product like total fat, sodium, total carbohydrates and so on. Vitamin K and potassium may also be included but are not required. The amount of each nutrient for each serving should be listed. Take note that the following information is important:


1 gram of alcohol

7 kcal

1 gram of carbohydrate

4 kcal

1 gram of fat

9 kcal

1 gram of protein

4 kcal

  1. Serving Size – The serving sizes were made standard so that consumers can find it easier to put it side by side with another similar product. They are usually expressed in measures readily understandable by consumers like the metric system or other common household measurements. It is good to take notice of the serving size so that you can allot proper number of servings in your meals. Knowing that 1 serving size of Chocó-chip cookies is 2 pieces will give you the hint to stop eating after 2 pieces or else you might double the calories you intake.
  2. Calories (kcal) – This part provides information about the amount of energy you get from taking a section of the product. If you the amount of calories you can get then it will not come as a surprise that fat-free foods and sugar-free items do not always mean low calories. 
  3. List of Nutrients – It is required to list the nutrients that a product has like iron, calcium, vitamins A and C, protein, total carbohydrates, cholesterol, saturated fats, and total fat. The manufacturer has a choice to include other nutrients in the label. Since 2006 trans fatty acids are also included in the label to aid consumers especially patients with heart ailments in their diet plans. Fibers are also listed at times.
  4. Percent Daily Values – You will see in the lower portion of the panel “Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.” The purpose of this is to provide you with an approximate figure of a nutrient from one serving of a usual 2,000-calorie diet.
  5. Daily Reference Values Footnote – This serves as a reminder for consumers to take into consideration the daily intake of various products depending on their own dietetic requirements.

To sum it up, food labels are necessary so that consumers can compare the nutritive value of one product to another similar product. Reading labels is important especially if you want to watch your weight. If this is the case, watch out for both fat and calories. The labels are also necessary for patients with heart ailments and high blood pressure.

These people should concentrate on foods with few amounts of sodium, cholesterol, Trans fat, saturated fat, and total fat. Foods that have no more than 20 percent daily values for sodium, cholesterol and fat are recommended. Patients with diabetes also benefit from reading labels by informing them about the amount of fiber, sugar and carbohydrates in a product.

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4 Comment(s)

good information
By: chandu 10 years ago
great info
By: maxx 10 years ago
A lot of good information.
By: sherry 11 years ago
we neen a person/company who can provide us nutritional facts for our range of products as per FDA and retail packaging norms in india and abroad
By: YOGENDRA D. THAKKER 12 years ago

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