How to Read Food Labels

Nutrition labels, called “Nutrition Facts”, appear on almost all food products. You may not see them on institutional packs. Foods packaged in large size containers for food service are currently exempt. Inserts or fact sheet information may be provided.

The Nutrition Facts label gives standard serving sizes for adults. Be aware that the amounts would have to be adjusted for child size portions, according to meal pattern minimum quantity requirements. Therefore the number of servings and the number of calories per serving along with the number of calories from fat would be similarly adjusted.

Nutrient information on the Nutrition Facts label includes: total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, including dietary fiber and sugars, and protein based on an established serving size. “Daily Values” in percents are based on an adult’s daily intake of 2,000 calories. Keep in mind that the average energy allowance for children 6 through 12 years old is about 2,600 calories per day.

Included on the label are percentages of Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Again these are based on daily requirements for adults, not children.

The Food Label at a Glance

The food label carries an up-to-date, easy to use nutrition information guide, required on almost

all packaged foods.  The guide serves as a key to help in planning a healthy diet.