Food Labels Explained

Updated at: Feb 04, 2013
Food Labels Explained
Editorial Team
Exercise & FitnessWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Feb 04, 2013

All food products need to carry food labels that indicate the following details:

  • Per 100 gm or per 100 ml Nutritional value of the product.
  • The product should indicate if artificial colours or flavour has been added to them.
  • The product should clearly state the date of manufacture and the expiry date.
  • Batch number should also be indicated.
  • The ingredient list of the product needs to be specified (in descending order of weight).
  • Storage instructions need to be mentioned. Details about the product like if it needs to be frozen and stored (at what temperature), if it needs to be heated before consumption etc need to be indicated on the food label.
  • The product needs to clearly indicate if it is fit for consumption by vegetarians or not.
  • If a product carries the following sign, it is fit for consumption by vegetarians.

This means that the product contains “no” animal products and is a 100% vegetarian product.

  • If the product contains the sign mentioned below, than it is unfit for  consumption by a vegetarian.
  • This product will partly/completely have animal extract in it, and thus should be avoided by vegetarians.
  • The food label should clearly mention if the product can be consumed by children, pregnant women and diabetics. The use of artificial sweeteners (if any) needs to be clearly mentioned.
  • Use of caffeine/ nicotine and other stimulants needs to be mentioned.
  • Products unfit for consumption must necessarily carry a warning sign.
  • The food label should clearly indicate the total content of the product or the total weight of the product contained.


What you must know


Reading of food labels is extremely important especially for people who are trying to eat healthy.

  • A food product that is labeled “Low fat” is not an indication of how safe it is for weight watchers. The food label tells you that it is low on fat.
  • Also this food label may indicate that it is very high on sugar content. The calories listed on the label will not tell you how fat you will get when you consume the product, but it will indicate what the composition of the product is.
  • Some people may be allergic to a particular food product enlisted on the food label. In that case, the person should completely avoid the given food product.
  • Diabetics with other associated complications need to read the food labels in great detail. A food product that is low on sugar but high on sodium (salt), and fat may prove detrimental for such a person.
  • Certain children are allergic to artificial food colours and flavours. Care needs to be taken to read the fine print on these food labels.
  • Any product that has low sodium, low trans fat and low sugar will theoretically be a good product.
  • Products that are high on vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber will be healthy options.


Reading the label


The food label for a packet of cream biscuits may read as 350 calories, as against this a protein bar will read as 300 calories. Ideally, a person looking to watch his/her weight will opt for the packet of biscuits.From what we have read above, we need to check for the following points

  1. Sugar content: The packet of biscuits will obviously have higher sugar content than the protein bar. So that means that protein bars have scored 1 point.
  2. Total fats: The packet of biscuits will definitely have a higher content of total fats, as compared to the protein bar. To add to that most of the fat source will be either saturated fat or trans fat, both of which are not recommended. In fact, protein bars may actually have a higher quality of fats than the biscuits....


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