Common nutrients, such as total fat, cholesterol, and sodium, are required fields. Other nutrients, such as potassium and Vitamin K, are optional and not required to be listed. Each package must identify the quantities of specified nutrients and food constituents for one serving. It is important to note the following:
- 1 g of fat = 9 kcal
- 1 g of protein = 4 kcal
- 1 g of carbohydrate = 4 kcal
- 1 g of alcohol = 7 kcal
Serving sizes are standardized to make for easier comparison among similar food items. They are expressed in both common household and metric measures. It is always important to pay attention to a serving size. For instance, a serving of chocolate chip cookies is typically 2 pieces. Hence, if you eat 4 pieces, you will need to double the amount of nutrition content listed on the label.
Calories provide a measure of how much energy you obtain after eating a portion of food. It is always important to find out the total calories. Many consumers are surprised to find that a fat-free product is not necessarily low in calories. Similarly, a sugar-free product is not always low in Calories or low in fat.
Total fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, total carbohydrate (including fiber and added sugars), protein, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron are required on the label. Other nutrients are optional and may be listed at the discretion of the manufacturer.
In addition to total calories and total fat, a few other nutrients relevant to heart health are important to pay attention to when reading a label. These include saturated fats, cholesterol and fiber. Effective Jan 2006, all labels should also include trans fatty acids.
Percent Daily Values
Percent Daily Values provide an estimate of the percentage of a nutrient from one serving in a typical 2000 kcal diet.
Daily Reference Values Footnote
This footnote reminds consumers of the daily intake of different foods depending on their own nutritional needs.