Food labels provide food safety information (e.g. use by dates) and also tell you what nutrients are in the food. Food labelling laws require all manufactured foods to include a nutrition information panel.
You will find the following information on food labels:
- Product name
- Brand name
- Ingredient list
- Nutrition information panel
- Use by date
- Manufacturer details
- Product weight.
You might also find on your food labels:
- Nutrition content claims or health claims
- Allergen information
- Percentage Daily Intake (%DI)
- Other symbols e.g. Glycaemic Index (GI), Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) free, Gluten Free (GF), Health Star Rating.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) develop the food labelling laws and local State and Territory agencies enforce these laws. There are also fair trading laws that require labels to be truthful. The laws and regulations aim to make it easier for people to make decisions about the nutritional value of the food they buy and eat.
Nutrition content claims or health claims may also appear on the package to promote foods as being ‘healthy’. If claims are made, information needs to be declared in the ingredient list and nutrient information panel to support the claims.
Ingredients are listed in descending order of quantity, meaning that the first ingredient is the main ingredient in the food and the last ingredient is the smallest by weight. Checking the order of ingredients can give you valuable information about the food. Food additives are included on the ingredient list and may be listed by name or by an approved numbering system.
An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can provide advice and information on how to read and understand food labels.