What to Look for on Food Labels

Use by you need to eat by this date, but Best before is just a recommended date.

Traffic light system on packaging.  Look for sugars, fats especially saturated fats & salt.  Red is high, Amber is ok in moderation, green is good to go.

Try comparing 2 brands in shops. Use the ‘per 100g’ to compare as the portion information may not represent the portion you would normally eat so this can be misleading.

Ingredients list.  The biggest ingredient is listed first.  Look out for sugars and saturated fats at the top of the list. The last ingredients listed may be very minimal eg look out for vitamins and minerals at the end of the list as they may be miniscule.

Alternative names for sugar.  Honey, syrup, nectar, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, anything ending in ‘ose’ such as fructose, glucose, dextrose and maltose.

Beware of reduced-fat claims/ reduced sugar claims.  They may just be a smaller portion and not the healthiest.  Low fat can mean extra sugar and low sugar can mean extra fat.  Low fat cheese can still be high in fat, it’s just low compared to other cheese.

Beware of hidden sugar.  Eg. low fat yoghurts, fruit juices made from concentrate, condiments (tom ketchup), alcohol, ready meals.  Cereal Bars can be very deceptive, these figures are per 100g and traffic system coded:

Sugar Content in g Fat Content in g
Alpen light 23 4.1
Go ahead 39.9 10.2
Special K 30 7.9
Nature vale 26.6 14.3
Jordans 32.1 12.2
Naked 44.4 8.1
Kellogs Nutrigrain 35.1 8.1
Wispa chocolate bar 52.5 34
Apple 15.7 0.1



Your guide to high and low levels

High Levels. More than …

(per 100g)

Low levels. Less than…

(per 100g)

Total fat 17.5g 3g
Saturated fats 5g 1.5g
Sugars 22.5g 5g
Salt (sometimes called sodium) 1.5 g (or 0.6g sodium) 0.3g (or 0.1g sodium)


Recommended Sugar Levels

Age Group Maximum recommended
4 – 7 19g Or 5 teaspoons
7 – 10 24g Or 6 teaspoons
11 + adults 30g Or 7 teaspoons

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