Facts Up Front Labels: 5 Features you need to know

When shopping for groceries do you ask yourself often, what do all those numbers on food and beverage labels mean?

If you are a regular mortal, you might feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out the labels on food and beverage packages. Many of us make our buying decisions based on the amount of calories the food has; however, not only calories are important if you are seeking for a healthier diet.

Probably you have already seen those blue, white and black labels that are displayed on the front of products. Although the position of these labels helps consumers save time when shopping for groceries, if you are a nutrition novice it is still difficult to figure out what the labels mean. For this reason, The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) have developed the Facts Up Front website (http://www.factsupfront.org/). This tool provides consumers valuable information on how to read food and beverage labels in a clear and easy-to-understand format.

Understanding the labels with the Facts Up Front interactive website is now pretty simple. All you need to know is that the Facts Up Front labels:

1. Provide information about one serving

All the icons that are included on the label don’t tell you the amount of calories and nutrients the package has, but that each serving has. Sometimes, a serving size is measured in cups, but read the label to make sure what the manufacturer has considered to be one serving.

2. Are listed by amount

On a product label, the ingredients are listed in order from greatest to least amount in the product. From left to right, if the second ingredient is saturated fat and the fourth ingredient is sugar, this means that the product has more amount of saturated fat than sugar.

3. Usually show the calories and three more nutrients

Besides the calories, most food and beverage labels positioned on the front of the package will show saturated fat, sodium, and sugar information; which you need to limit in your diet.

4. Sometimes include up to two “nutrients to encourage”

These nutrients can be potassium, fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and/or iron. These nutrients are needed to build a “nutrient-dense” diet and can only be placed on a package when a product contains 10 percent or more of the daily value per serving of the nutrient and meets the FDA requirements for a “good source” of that nutrient.

5. Include the Daily Value (DV) at the bottom of each icon

The term “% DV” is the percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV), or amount, of each nutrient you would get in a single serving of the product. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient choose foods with 5 or less % DV. If you want to consume more of a nutrient, seek foods with 20 or more % DV.

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