Since 1994 we’ve been seeing nutrition Fact labels on the sides of our manufactured food products. I personally use them everyday to help me make informed decisions about what I eat. As valuable as it is, this label can be confusing.
Allow me to help. Here is my breakdown of everything you need to know about nutrition labels.
Serving size is the most important part of the label. It specifies the amount of food that the label facts were calculated for. One serving may be 1 slice of a loaf, or it could be the entire loaf. It is important to pay attention to the “servings per container”.
Dry vs. Prepared
For some products, especially baking mixes, you may notice a distinction between “dry” and “prepared”. The FDA only requires that a manufacturer lists “dry” nutrition information, but many companies (Dassant does this) will list the “prepared” information as well because that is how the consumer will eat it.
For Baking Mixes, be sure to factor in any ingredient substitutions. The nutrition facts are calculated assuming you use the exact ingredients on the box. If you substitute egg beaters for a regular egg, your finished product will probably have less calories. You can use the “dry” specifications to calculate nutrition from there.
The Daily Value are the estimated amounts of each you should consume per day based on the FDA and ASDA recommendations. For instance, the fat calculated for this finished product (on right) is 15% of the fat the average person should consume a day. “Average” is considered an 2,000 calorie daily diet. Keep in mind that this ideal caloric daily intake changes person to person based on numerous variables including your health, lifestyle, age, gender and more.
Each product is required to list the ingredients that were used to make it. Some nutritionists advise to steer clear of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, both ingredients that Dassant products do not have.
The future of Nutrition Labels
A new front-of-box labeling system called Nutrition Keys were rolled out by the FDA earlier this year. The idea is that customers will be able to see important nutrition information right on the front of the box, without having to search. This voluntary system not only encourages limiting “bad” ingredients, but encourages the consumption of “good” ingredients such as Vitamin A, Fiber and Iron.
Do you read the nutrition labels on your foods? What would you like to see on the label that currently isn’t there?