Food Labelling Lingo

If you’re making the switch to healthier eating, reading labels is a great way to start . In fact, you can always spot the healthy shoppers in the grocery store . They’re the ones studying cans and the sides of boxes . There is an increasing amount of information on food labels to help you choose healthier products . If you’re just starting to read labels, visit the store a few times when you aren’t rushed so you have time to examine them .Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel more confident in identifying the healthier choices . Read on for a few helpful hints on how to decipher food labels.

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Three main areas of nutrition information

1) Ingredient list—the list is mandatory for all manufacturers to have on food labels . The ingredients are listed in the order
of the amount in the product, according to weight . The first ingredient is in the product the most and the last ingredient is in the product the least . If the first ingredient is butter or another type of fat, make a healthier choice .
2) Nutrition Claim—a nutrition claim is used to highlight a key nutrition feature of the product . It is often on the front of the package in big, bold type . The government has regulations on most claims, meaning that if the product claims to be “a source of fibre,” it has to follow certain standards .
3) Nutrition Information Panel—provides detailed facts about certain nutrients . This panel is not mandatory, but if it is included, it has to give information about certain core nutrients including calories, carbohydrate, fat, protein and a

Nutrition Claim What It Means Notes
Low-fat The product can not have more than three grams of fat per given . serving . Check the serving size that is. If your serving is a lot more than this, remember that the product may not be low-fatfor you anymore
Light Has to state why it is “light” Light can describe various properties of the product .It could be lower in fat, calories, alcohol, sodium or lighter in colour, flavour or texture . “Light” or “Lite” doesn’t always mean lower in fat
Cholesterol-free No more than 3 mg of cholesterol per 100 g Certain products like oil or French fries may have a “cholesterol-free” claim . However, it doesn’t mean they are low in fat . Cholesterol is only found in animal products so a product that says cholesterol free can still be high in fat and hydrogenated fat
Fat-free No more than 0 .5 g of fat per serving Many reduced-fat baked goods and cookies contain much more sugar than their full-fat counterparts and the same number
of calories . Use these products in moderation instead of filling up on them
Calorie reduced Contains 50% fewer calories than the regular version Usually lower in fat or sugar .
Low sodium Contains 50% less sodium than the regular product or no more than 40 mg of sodium per 100 g Recommended sodium intake is 2400 mg per day .
Fat-free No more than 0 .5 g of fat per serving Many reduced-fat baked goods and cookies contain much more sugar than their full-fat counterparts and the same number
of calories . Use these products in moderation instead of filling up on them
Calorie reduced Contains 50% fewer calories than the regular version Usually lower in fat or sugar .
Low sodium Contains 50% less sodium than the regular product or no more than 40 mg of sodium per 100 g Recommended sodium intake is 2400 mg per day .
Source of fibre
High source of fibre
Very high source of fibre
At least 2 g of fibre per serving
At least 4 g of fibre per serving
At least 6 g of fibre per serving
Recommended sodium intake
is 25 to 35 g per day .
Natural Not expected to contain any added vitamins or minerals, artificial flavouring or food additive “Natural” doesn’t necessarily mean healthier . Read the entire food label to get the whole picture

Food Additives

Generally food additives are substances added to a food in the course of production, processing or packaging . They are used to maintain nutritional quality, preserve foods and aid in processing . Some food additives may be natural in origin, such as lecithin (obtained from soybeans), or they could be synthetically produced . Both need to be assessed for safety and are subject to strict testing before being approved . The control of food additives is the responsibility of the Health Protection Branch of Health and Welfare Canada who continually review the additives in use.

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