Reading FDA Food Labels

fda-food-labelWhen you buy your groceries, what do you usually first check in the goods you’re planning to purchase before tossing it into your push cart? For some people, checking the nutritional value of the goods is a waste of time, but for other consumers, it plays a significant role in the health and wealth of their family. In line with this, they are willing to spend as much time scrutinizing the nutritional information of an item. We have FDA to thank for this particular circumstance. How important is it really to understand FDA labels? What do you mean by the color coding done at the different groups of minerals or vitamins shown in the label?

How to Read Food Labels

Serving Size – First, on the topmost section of the food label is the serving size. Depending on the food container, you could see different terms here ranging from cups, packets, sachet, ounces, crackers, slice, etc. The difference in terms is done because foods vary in servings, and also to convey this info as consumer-friendly as possible. After all, it’s pretty much easier to distinguish what slices look like than imagination how many pieces does it take for the food to weigh a gram, right? It is in this portion where you could decide on how many cups, pieces, slices, or sachets do you need to consume to obtain necessary calories or to avoid consuming extra calories. For example, if a cup of yoghurt says that 1 serving is equal to 200 calories; you would end up consuming 500 calories if you eat two cups. Just do the math; it’s that simple.
Calories – If you notice it closely, you will see that there’s the calorie and there’s also calories from fat. For example, if a cup of food’s label says that it has 200 Calories and Calories from Fat are 100, that means half of the calories is from fat. And if you consume two cups, you’ll get 400 calories and 200 fats, which can be an element to a future weight gain if you consume 400 calories in one sitting. Remember that 40 is low; 100 calories is moderate; and 400 and above calories are high. Meanwhile, a lot of people think that the term calories is synonymous to fat, specifically the fat that makes you gain weight. Basically, calorie is the term used to refer to the amount of energy you get from food and it is what the body needs to keep going. It can be found in various compounds like fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. On the one hand, calories are normally found in fats, and because of this, calories from fats are also being indicated in food labels. It is an important factor in determining whether or not it’s good or bad food based on the fats that it contains. There’s good and bad fats, but, too much of both can deliberately increase your weight and can make you suffer from health issues in the long run.

Nutrients – This is the most important aspects of food labels. It is where we can find the vitamins and minerals included in the packaging. The nutrient aspect of a food packaging is found in the middle of the box where cholesterol, sodium, and fats, including trans fat, are commonly found. These are the ones that consumers should limit or zero out from their diet. Meanwhile the bottom portion of the mentioned nutrients is the list of nutrients that are more beneficial, namely Vitamins C, A, Calcium, Iron, and the likes.

Footnote – Finally, we have the footnote. The footnotes show the % DVs based on a 2,000-calorie diet. It is located at the bottom part of the label and it also shows the percentage of each nutrient that consumers are advised to take. The 2,000 calorie diet is the needed calorie amount that an average person would have to consume per day to make it through. However, if the person often does rigorous activities, like those athletes, they need to have higher consumption of calories, too. The lower part of the footnote shows the components that should be eaten in moderation while the upper part shows the contents that should be consumed in amounts lesser than the required intake since these are generally unhealthy compounds.

The next time you make a purchase, be sure to read those small, nutrition labels found at the back or at the side of the food packaging. You can never tell how many crackers are safe enough to be eaten the whole day. Meanwhile, reports show that FDA has currently released a possibility of stamping the nutritional information of fast foods to enlighten consumer of their nutritional value. Do you think this move is beneficial enough to keep the US from increasing the population of obese and overweight individuals? What do you think?