How to read labels: it’s important!


When a manufacturer, in pursuit of profit, violates the rules for labeling a product, he can be held liable



Food and drink labels may only say «reduced calorie» if they provide 75% of the calories compared to the base product. An example of such a product is «reduced calorie» orange lemonade.


In order for a food or drink to qualify as a «low-calorie» food or drink, one standard serving of such a food or drink must contain 40 calories less than the base one (this is equivalent to reducing the energy value of 100 g or 100 ml of the product by 167 kilojoules). A good example is a «low-calorie» hot chocolate drink: a tea bag of a regular low-calorie chocolate drink has 39 calories, which means it can be written on.

Protein content

Manufacturers of some foods and drinks, especially health products or those designed specifically for athletes, like to point out that their products have the ability to give us protein in large quantities.


In order for a manufacturer to even mention the word protein on a product’s label, a typical day’s worth of protein must contain at least 12 grams of protein.


In order for a manufacturer to label a product as «a source of protein», the product must contain at least 12% of total calories from protein.


In order for a product to move up a notch and be labeled “rich in protein” or “an excellent source of protein” by the manufacturer, the product must be more than 20% protein, in other words, must provide one-fifth of calories from the proteins it contains.


read the label

Under food law, it is only allowed to write «low cholesterol» information on a food if it contains less than 5 mg of cholesterol per 100 g. For comparison, one egg contains 321 mg of cholesterol, and a rye crispbread of cholesterol does not contain. Despite the existence of such a law, manufacturers are advised not to draw our attention to the content of cholesterol in the product, because most often this component is not responsible for increasing the level of cholesterol in the blood. This is facilitated by the consumption of saturated fatty acids, which are rich in fatty meat dishes: sausages and meat pies, as well as muffins, cookies and cream.

Fat content

“Reduced fat”, “low fat” and “extremely low fat” labels on spreads

If you see «low fat», «low fat» and «extremely low fat» labels on «spreads», then forget about the rules for other foods. Pasty foods have their own laws.

* In order for a manufacturer to label a spread as “low fat”, 100g of product must contain less than 40g of fat.

* In order for the manufacturer to label this spread as an «extremely low fat» product, 100 g of product must contain no more than 20-30 g of fat.

These extreme cases show that even «low» and «extremely low» fat spreads are, however, quite high in fat. The definition of «low» or «extremely low» is given in comparison with butter or margarine, which contain 82 g of fat per 100 g of product.

Source: Adapted from How to Read Labels by Amanda Ursell

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