Here’s Why We Need to be Reading Nutrition Labels Way More Carefully
Food packaging has been displaying its nutrition information a lot more clearly than it previously did, now using a traffic light system to indicate whether a product is particularly high in fat, sugar, salt and more. And it’s proved really helpful in allowing shoppers to make a quick decision as to whether they want to purchase the product from a health perspective.
However, brands’ use of ‘serving sizes’ can often mean that consumers sometimes miss the full nutritional labels information on some foods. On an average food product, you’ll see the amount of sugar/salt/fat listed in grams and also as a percentage of your recommended daily allowance. This is usually calculated per 100g, and per serving size. You will occasionally also see the nutritional information for the entire weight of the product, too, but not always.
And sometimes a brand’s idea of ‘one serving’ is not exactly in line with the consumer’s.
Take this 300ml bottle of Tropicana as an example. A 300ml bottle contains less liquid than a standard can of coke. So it’s safe to assume a person is likely to drink the whole bottle in one sitting. Yet when you look at the nutritional information, as I did on Tesco’s website, it only appears to break it down into either per ‘150ml serving’ – half of the bottle’s contents – or per 100ml.
It means that a quick look at the traffic light system will only give you the information for half, or less, of what you’re actually drinking. It’s also about how accurate the whole ‘percentage of daily intake’ thing is. These percentages are a rough estimate based on the recommended guidelines set by the government. These are incredibly generalised.
We come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t assume that, just because a packet of crisps claims to take up just 7% of your daily salt intake. That that figure is actually accurate for you and your body. So there’s a clear lesson to be learned here. Brands aren’t actually doing anything technically wrong by opting to display their nutritional information according to serving sizes. Which means it’s down to us to make sure we’re paying close attention to what we’re reading. So we know exactly what we’re eating.