Food labelling

If you want to eat more healthily it is vital that you get to understand food labelling so can really know what is it the food we eat. It's the only way we can tell how much salt, fat or sugar we are eating. But it's not easy interpreting food labels as different food companies label food differently and they often use terms that don't mean much to us! If you’re not sure how much of a food to eat, have a look at the food label. Food labels appear on all packaged foods and drinks.Look at the back or sides of the packaging for a table or grid. All nutritional information is given per 100 grams but also per serving. Of course if you eat something which is meant to serve 2 you have to remember to double the amounts of salt, sugar and fat which the label stated was in a portion.


What to look for

  • Total fat
    • High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
    • Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g
  • Saturated fat
    • High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
    • Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g
  • Sugars
    • High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
    • Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g

Many labels also have colour-coded nutritional information which tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

  • red means high
  • amber means medium
  • green means low

In short, the more green(s) on the label, the healthier the choice. If you buy a food that has all or mostly green(s) on the label, you know straight away that it's a healthier choice. Amber means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber(s) on the label most of the time. But any red(s) on the label means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars and these are the foods we should cut down on. Try to eat these foods less often and in small amounts.

For more information on labels visits the Government's Change 4 Life website.