What do you look first in buying a food product? Most of food products that we buy and consume are packaged with labels. The brand, the name of the food, even the enhanced photo of it is the most prominent and artistically designed to catch our attention to introduce the product. And usually, consumers depend on what their eyes can see when buying out for groceries.
However, there is more about the food label not just the product name and the fancy design that we see. If you look thoroughly, you will also find the nutrition facts, dates, ingredients and more information about the food. So, what information do they tell? Check this out:
Nutrition facts contain the key nutrients present in your food. This provides you how much of the calories and nutrients the food gives you.
As you check the nutrition facts, you will see the serving size in household measurement and in metric amount. It is standardized for comparison in similar foods. Take note that the amount of calories and nutrients listed implies on the serving, not on the whole product. For example, a pack of cookies with serving size of 3 pieces and serves 5 per container (therefore, a pack contains 15 pieces of cookies) has a calorie content of 140 kcal. So if you consumed all of it at once, you already gained 700 kcal in one sitting.
Nutrition facts also contain the key nutrients you can get from the food you are buying which influence your health. You may refer to it if you have dietary needs or wanted a healthier food choice. Choose food products with higher dietary fiber for increased bowel movements and to lower blood glucose and cholesterol. Avoid/limit products containing cholesterol, saturated fats, sodium and added sugars because too much of them contribute in the development of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The percentage you can see on the nutrition facts is the percent Daily Value (%DV) of each nutrient which shows how much the product is contributing to your daily nutrient needs. Here’s an example, you ate one (1) serving of cookies which has a 1% DV for potassium. This means that you consumed 1% of your total daily needs for potassium, the remaining 99% will come from the foods you will eat within the day.
Use nutrition facts to compare similar products in terms of nutrient content and get healthier food choices.
As a consumer, you also check the date of expiration and the best before date before you buy or use it for food quality and safety purposes. But what’s the difference between the two?
“Expiration date,” “consume by” or “use by” tells you the last day the product is at its best quality. Beyond this point, quality is significantly impaired and the product is no longer marketable. On the other hand, “best before” and “best use-by” are freshness dates. This tells consumers that after this date, the product is not on its best quality. It is still safe to consume however, the taste, aroma or flavor could be deteriorated thus might not be as good as before.
These dates are written in a manner of day, month and year where day and year are numerical while month is in words to avoid confusion.
A food label must also contain the complete ingredients used in the product. These are written in descending manner in terms of proportion. The first ingredient on the list has the most amount on the product while the last ingredient has the least amount.
Other information that you can obtain from the food label are the net weight of the product, manufacturer, distributor, allergen information, storage condition, directions to use (if applicable) and lot identification.
Food labels are important to make consumers informed of what they are eating. There are many things to know about the product that we buy, just look through their labels and compare to determine which is better.
So, the next time you go to the stores, be wise on your food choices. And, don’t forget to read the labels! (BLVMEstrella)
Department of Health A.O. No. 2014-0030
Food and Drug Administration Regulation No. 001 s. 1982 (PH)
Food and Drug Administration (USA)
Department of Science and Technology - Food and Nutrition Research Institute