Female shopper checking food labelling in SUPERMARKET

Reading Food Labels

The National Institute on Aging shared that reading labels can help you make informed food choices. Packaged foods and drinks—the types that come in cans, boxes, bottles, jars, and bags—have a lot of nutrition and food safety information on their labels or packaging. Look for these things on the food label.

Product Dates

You might see one of three types of product dates on some foods you buy:

  • “Sell by,” tells how long the manufacturer suggests that a store should sell foods like meat, poultry, eggs, or milk products—buy it before this date.
  • “Use by,” tells how long the food will be at peak quality—if you buy or use it after that date, some foods might be stale or less tasty.
  • “Best if used by” (or “best if used before”) tells how long the food has the best flavor or quality—it does not suggest a date by which the food should be purchased.

Product dates are not safety dates and are not required by federal regulations (except on infant formula). They are added voluntarily by manufacturers.

Ingredient List

This tells you each ingredient in the food product by its common or usual name. Did you know that the ingredients are listed in descending order by weight? That is, the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last.

Nutrition Facts Label

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a Nutrition Facts label on most packaged foods and beverages. At the top of the Nutrition Facts label, you will find the total number of servings in the container and the food or drink’s serving size. The serving size on the label is based on the amount of food that people typically eat at one time and is not a recommendation of how much to eat.

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