Labelling of nutritional information

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A good source of information on a food is to look at the label. Food labels can give various information including, ingredients, allergy information and the nutritional facts about a food. This information can help you plan diets and ensure a balanced meal.

The basic information on food labels includes the amount of energy measured in kilojoules or kilocalories. Protein, fats and carbohydrates are measured in grams. More detailed information includes the amount in grams of fibre and sodium and the percentage sugars in carbohydrates and the grams of saturated fats in the total fats are also shown.

Additional information on the label is to show the vitamin and minerals content. This is represented in the recommended daily allowance or RDA as defined by European legislation. The amount of cholesterol and other items can also be shown.

If the food contains genetically modified foods, it must be labelled to show this by law.

There are laws where a product calls its self-low fat, it must not contain more than 3 grams per 100 grams of food or 100 millilitres of liquid. A reduced fat food should contain 25 percent less fat than a similar product. Low salt food must contain no more than 40 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams of food.

Traffic light systems are now on many products to make it clearer for consumers to see what the levels are.

The monitoring of labels and enforcement is carried out by the Trading Standards, Environmental Health Department or local authorities. Businesses are required to ensure they are correctly labelling food and that the design of the label meets all the correct standards.