Food labels are a very integral part of every food package. A food package without a label is considered as incomplete. It is also against the food standard laws to make food packages without labels.
A label gives you information that can help you decide if such food is needed to be part of your overall health plan. Checking food labels can also alert you to a food that is high in sugar. Food labels also provide you with the state or country which the food was produced or originated from. They also state which food ingredients present in the food product can cause an allergic reaction. Food labels also state all the food additives that have been used to produce the food product. It is therefore necessary to read food labels before buying or consuming foods. Here are some important reasons why you should read food labels;
- Food Label Provides You with Key Information
A food label provides key information like total fat, serving size, calories, saturated fat, carbohydrates, protein and vitamin content of the food product. The label also contains the list of ingredients that were used to produce the food product. This information helps you to maintain your daily diet targets and also helps you to avoid specific ingredients especially if you have food intolerance or if you are excluding certain ingredients from your diet as is the case with vegetarians.
- Food Label Helps You Reduce Food Intake
Checking food labels helps you to know exactly what quantity of food you are eating. This plays a central role in cutting back on your food intake. Health agencies have recommended that you reduce your sodium intake to less than 2300milligrams per day and also to reduce your sugar and your saturated fat intake to not more than 5-15% of your daily calorie need. Always check food labels for guidance in reducing the intake of those recommended food components.
- Food Label Helps You Improve Your Diet
Checking food labels will help you stay in track with the recommended amount of foods that can help improve your diet. For example, it is recommended that you increase your intake of fiber, so checking the food labels can help you ascertain the right amount of fiber in a particular food so that you can stay in track with the daily recommended amount of fiber.
There are various information a food label can carry and you need to know the exact things to look for in a food label. Such things include;
- Product Dates
Product dates can come in three different forms namely;
- “Sell by” Date: This date tells you how long the manufacturer suggests that a store should sell a particular food. Ensure to buy the food product before this date.
- “Use by” Date: This date tells you how long the food will retain its peak quality. If you buy or use such foods after that date, it might be stale or have less taste.
- “Best if used before” Date: This date tells you how long the food will have the best flavour or quality. It does not suggest a date that the food should be purchased.
Note that product dates are not safety dates; they are just added voluntarily by the manufacturers.
- Ingredient List
This dissipates each ingredient present in the food product by its common name. The ingredients are listed in descending order of their weight. That is, the ingredients which weighs the most is listed first and the ingredient which weighs the least is listed last.
- Nutritional Fact
The nutritional fact confers the information about the total number of servings in the food container. It also gives the information of the food and drink serving size. The serving size on the label is based on the quantity of food that people typically eat at once and it is not a recommendation of how much you should eat.
It is crucial to determine your nutritional goals first so you can make better use of the information included on food labels.