The labels on packages are important tools you can use to find out what is in the food you eat.

Make healthier food choices by learning more about the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredient list. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn’t require the Nutrition Facts label until 1991. The FDA has updated the Nutrition Facts label. Some companies have already started using the new label, and most will be required to use it by 2020.!

Nutrition Facts label:

You’ve probably seen the Nutrition Facts label on many food packages. The label shows you how many calories and how much saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, and other nutrients are in each serving.

Food Ingredients list:

In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, most food packages also have an ingredients list. Ingredients are listed in order by weight, with the most common ingredient listed first. The closer the ingredient is to the beginning of the list, the more there is in the product.

  • Trying to avoid foods with a lot of added sugar? Limit foods that list added sugars (including corn syrup, fructose, and sucrose) as the first few ingredients.
  • Trying to get more fiber? Choose foods with a whole grain, such as whole wheat, listed as the first or second (after water) ingredient. Or eat whole fruits and vegetables — lots of fiber, no ingredients list needed!
  • Trying to eat healthier in general? Choose foods where you recognize most of the ingredients. Sometimes preservatives (like citric acid) are necessary, but foods with a lot of unfamiliar ingredients, such as color additives, might not be as healthy.

Other labels:

  • Some food labels, such as fat-free, reduced-calorie, or light, can be difficult to understand while shopping. These words and phrases have specific definitions.