How to Read Food Nutrition Facts Labels

Learning how to read food nutrition facts labels is paramount not only to ensuring you don’t over eat (or under eat), but also making sure that you’re getting the right amount of macronutrients and micronutrients.

Example of Food Nutrition Facts Label

Food Label and Nutrition Facts Panel

Understanding Food Labels and Nutrition Facts Panels

The most important thing to be mindful off on a nutrition facts label is serving size versus servings per container. Servings per container tells you how many total servings there are in the package or box. The nutrition information you see on the side of a package or box is typically for one serving, though 1 serving is not the same as 1 individualized package. Companies often try to deceive consumers with this information and you have to keep a close eye on a serving size. Just because you have an individually packaged food item (like 1 chocolate bar, one pack of cookies, 1 bottle of soda, 1 cup of soup) this in no way means that 1 container is 1 serving. Companies take advantage of consumers making such assumptions to make their foods seem less calorie dense, and you can easily over consume without even knowing.

Deceptive Nutrition Facts Labels

I’ve gathered a couple of popular examples of serving size scams below that should give you a good idea of the kinds of deception to keep an eye out for.

1. Kellog’s Pop Tarts – Calories per serving (200), serving size (1 pastry, 50 grams), servings per individual package (2), total calories per individual package (400).
2. Campbell’s Soup – Calories per serving (200), serving size (half a cup), servings per individual cup (2), total calories per individual cup (400).

Take a look at the chart of most popular Coca Cola Company products and how many servings they have per container. Fortunately for soda drinkers, Coca Cola Co. is one of the few companies that actually lists “total calories per bottle” on the front of their products.

Nutrition Information - Coca Cola Company Products

Nutrition Information – Coca Cola Company Products

Written and edited by Muhammad Saleem