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Demystifying food labels

Current dietary advice tends to focus on foods rather than nutrients, which can make choosing the healthiest options at the supermarket a challenge for you and your family. So we asked a team of Queensland Health nutritionists to shed some light on the principles behind the Australian Dietary Guidelines and explain some of the nutrients and nutritional terms commonly found on food labels.

Learn more about what’s listed on food labels:

If you’re not sure what to look at on a food label to make the healthiest choice, our nutritionists suggest using these two simple tips when choosing between similar products:

  1. To figure out which version of the same product is the healthier option in relation to energy or a nutrient content, it is best to use the ‘per 100g’ column on the Nutritional Information Panel of each product to make a comparison, rather than ‘per serve’.
  2. When reading labels, it’s important to look at the ingredients list as the major ingredients are listed first and each item is listed in descending order, with the lowest quantity at the end.


Nutritional glossary

  • Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI): The average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97–98 per cent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.
  • Australian Dietary Guidelines: The Australian Dietary Guidelines outline the best approach to eating for a long and healthy life and are based on the latest scientific evidence. The Guidelines contain information about the types and amounts of foods we should be consuming, the different food groups and recommended dietary patterns.