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Food Labeling

Also called: Nutrition labeling

Summary

All packaged foods and beverages in the U.S. have food labels. These "Nutrition Facts" labels can help you make smarter food choices and eat a healthy diet.

Before you read the food label, you should know a few things:

  • Serving size is based on how much people usually eat and drink at one time
  • Number of servings tells you how many servings are in the container. Some labels will give you information about calories and nutrients for both the whole package and each serving size. But many labels just tell you that information for each serving size. You need to think about the serving size when you decide how much to eat or drink. For example, if a bottle of juice has two servings and you drink the whole bottle, then you are getting twice the amount of sugar that is listed on the label.
  • Percent daily value (%DV) is a number that helps you understand how much of a nutrient is in one serving. Experts recommend that you get certain amount of different nutrients daily. %DV tells you what percentage of the daily recommendation you get from one serving of a food. With this, you can figure out if a food is high or low in a nutrient: 5% or less is low, 20% or more is high.

The information on a food label can help you see how a certain food or drink fits into your overall diet. The label lists, per serving,

Food and Drug Administration

Start Here

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Related Issues

  • (Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service)
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF

Specifics

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  • (Food and Drug Administration)
  • (Food and Drug Administration)
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  • (Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service) Also in
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  • (American Diabetes Association) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Videos and Tutorials

  • Video (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Statistics and Research

  • (Consumers Union of U.S.) - PDF

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
  • (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)

Older Adults

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)
  • (Food and Drug Administration) Also in

Patient Handouts

  • How to read food labels (On it differed) Also in Spanish
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF