Understanding Food Labels and Food Ingredients Lists is a powerful tool when it comes to choosing the healthiest, best quality and best value for money packaged -food options. With so many food options to compare and with so much information displayed on food packets, it can seem overwhelming and confusing to know what to look for to make the best choices.
Here are some fast facts to help you understand Food Ingredients Lists ~
- Ingredients will always be listed on a packaged product , this is mandatory in Australia & New Zealand and enforced by FSANZ . However there are some exclusions to this rule, including packaged products sold in Restaurants & Take-away outlets/delivered foods, Foods found in inner –packs (eg. flavour sachets), Food packaged in presence of purchaser, Food sold at fund raising event and some very small packages.
- All ingredients need to be declared, including added water. Ingredients are listed in descending order according to quantity or weight, therefore the first ingredient on the label makes up the largest proportion of the product and the last ingredient makes up the smallest portion.
- Additives listed in the ingredients list have passed the FSANZ safety test. Additives must be declared using their name &/or number. Example of additive names and numbers are 621 (MSG), 220 (Sulphur Dioxide), 102 (Tartrazine). Flavours can be listed as just ‘Flavours’ or by their name and number.
- Percentage labelling is highlighting the percentage (%) of a characterised ingredient and is necessary when the ingredient/s appear in the name of the food, is associated with the name of the food or is emphasised on the label.
Sugar is a common ingredient in many lists and can be displayed under many other names, more than 50 in fact. Examples include high fructose corn syrup, barley malt syrup, dehydrated can juice, dextrose, maltose, glucose, glucose syrup, golden syrup and molasses. Choose food items with little to no sugar listed in the ingredients, or containing less than 10g per serving.
Understanding the Food Ingredients List gives you a powerful tool to make the best possible choice towards a healthier lifestyle. If you’d like to learn more about food packaging, Nutrition Information Panels and labels, please visit my Community Health or Supermarket Tours page where I discuss the topic in detail and contact me for an enquiry.
Another important tip to remember – the healthiest food options, the ones we should be eating most, are the ones that come with no packaging at all, i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables.
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Big cheers to your good health x