The ingredient list is typically found below the NIP and shows the ingredients in the product (including additives).
The ingredient list is ordered in terms of ingoing weight, meaning the earlier/higher an ingredient is listed, the greater weight amount of that ingredient went into the product during manufacture.
Tip #3: Read and visualise the ingredients
As the ingredient list shows the ingredients in terms of ingoing weight, this can be helpful as it provides an indication of the proportions of ingredients. Sometimes the percentage of an ingredient is indicated however this is only required under certain circumstances.
Tip #4: Use the ingredient list and NIP together
For example, if you are trying to reduce the amount of added sugar you consume, you can look for ‘sugar’ (or other names for sugar) in the ingredient list. If it is listed early in the list, then it means that a greater amount of added sugar is in the product compared the ingredients listed after ‘sugar’. However, this is only a guide as the actual amount of each ingredient typically is not indicated. As such, using the ingredient list in conjunction with the nutrient amounts shown in the NIP can be useful.
Examples of claims of a nutritional nature include gluten free, no added sugar, source of protein. For a product to state that it is ‘gluten free’, it must not contain any detectable gluten, where the current level of gluten detection in Australia is 3-5 ppm, that is 0.003 g to 0.005 g of gluten per 1 kg of product.
Tip #5: Be claim savvy
It is important to not only look at what claims are made but also consider what claims aren’t being made. This is as claims typically highlight positive attributes, opposed to less desirable attributes. For example, a product may state that it is a ‘source of protein’ (or another claim) but may contain an undesirable level of sugar (or other nutrient of interest).
Allergen declarations for certain allergens are mandatory in Australia, and are typically located below the ingredient list. For example, it is mandatory to state if the product contains gluten-containing cereals, whereby gluten-containing cereals include wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt and hybrid strains of these cereals.
Tip #6: Allergen awareness
Remember to check if there is a ‘May contain/May be present’ statement in addition to the ‘Contains’ statement and assess accordingly in line with your needs. For information regarding the allergen sources, it is useful to look at the ingredient list as sometimes the ingredients containing the allergens are bolded (however not always the case).
Many foods don’t require food labels (for example, fresh fruit and vegetables) and therefore the above information isn’t always applicable. Most foods however do have food labels, and therefore it can be handy to keep in mind the above sections and tips.
Finally, last but not least…
Tip #7: Keep at it
Reading and understanding food labels may take a little longer at first, however be sure to keep at as it will become increasingly familiar. Most importantly, you will have learned a valuable skill that will enable you to confidently select foods to support the nutritional needs of you and your family.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not intended as advice and should not be relied upon as such. Independent advice suited to individual circumstances should be sought from relevant industry professionals prior to making any decisions.