New Australian Food Labels And How To Read Them
We are fully aware that food labels can be very confusing and tricky to understand. We often don’t have the time to work out what they mean or even how to use them properly. Labels on most packaged food must meet strict requirements that include information for people with allergies, additive listings and storage instructions (to name a few).
Nutrition Information Panel
This panel offers the simplest and easiest way to choose foods with less saturated fat, salt (sodium), added sugars and kilojoules, and those with more fibre. It can also be used to determine how many servings there are per package and how large each serve should be. This is particularly important if you are trying to lose weight or watching your intake.
Health Star Rating (HSR) System
This system is a front-of-pack labelling scheme that has been developed for use in Australia and New Zealand to provide easily understood nutrition information and guidance. It provides an at-a-glance overall rating of the healthiness of the product (reflected as a star rating), as well as specific nutrient and energy information. The more stars, the healthier the choice.
All ingredients must be listed on the food label in order of largest to smallest (by weight). You can use this list to spot items that might be high in saturated fat, added salt of added sugars because these ingredients will be listed in the top three. You should also look out for other words in the list that could flag ingredients that are high in these things.
Nutrition Content Claims
Sometimes, labels will include nutrition content claims like “low fat” or “high fibre”. These claims can only be used if the good meets a certain criteria. If an item claims to be a “good source of calcium”, for example, it must contain more than a set amount of calcium. It is important to always double-check these claims by looking at the nutrition information panel.
These claims actually like a food, nutrient or substance to a health effect. There are two types of health claims – general level (such as “calcium is good for bones and teeth”) and high level (such as “diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in people aged 65 or over”). Such claims are only permitted on foods that meet certain nutrition criterion.