A simple guide to reading food labels

You will find labels with traffic lights on most products in the market, usually on the front of the package. They help us compare food options quickly and make the healthier choice. Colour coding and nutritional information displays, at first sight, whether a product is low (green), medium (amber) or high (red) in fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, and the amount of energy provided (calories and kilo joules).

 

The Reference Intake (RI) is the average intake that an adult should consume from fat, saturates and sugar a day. The percentages show you how much of the RI a product provides. If a sandwich shows that it provides 50% of your fat RI, it means that it contains half of your daily requirement and that you should pick lower options of fat for the rest of the day.

What do the colours mean?

Green:  Means that a product has a LOW level. The more greens on the label, the healthier the choice.

Amber: Means that a product is in a MEDIUM range. You can eat foods with all or mostly amber on the label most of the time.

Red: Means that the food is HIGH in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugar. Opt out of foods with many reds, eat them less often or in a smaller amount.

 

Just remember…

You will mostly find that nutrition labels that use colour coding have a mixture of the three colours. When you are in the supermarket and have to make a quick choice between similar products, aim to get more green and ambers, and fewer reds.

Sources: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-labelling-terms/

https://change4life.service.nhs.uk/change4life/food-facts/food-labels

https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/labels.html?start=3

https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/324/food%20labelling%20resource_Dec%202014.pdf