The Real Goodness BlogTM

Understanding Food Labels – Ingredient list & Nutrition Facts

Do you ever wonder what goes into making the foods you eat, and what it means to your health? You’re not alone! In a recent survey, about 70% of Canadians say that food labels are an important source of nutrition information.[1]  Indeed, food labels are the most reliable source of information on pre-packaged foods and drinks and give you valuable guidance to help you make healthy choices. Let’s have a closer look the key information on food labels.

Ingredient List

Consumers expect to know exactly what is in their food so they can make informed choices that are in line with their values and health needs. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, beginning with the ingredient that weighs the most and ending with the ingredient that weighs the least. This means that a food contains more of the ingredients found at the beginning of the list, and less of the ingredients at the end of the list.

If you have allergies to foods, one of the most important things you can do is check ingredients carefully every time before eating a food.[2] [3] This will help prevent reactions to your allergens. Food allergens, gluten and added sulphites must also be shown in the ingredient list in one of two ways: 1) declared in the list of ingredients or 2) in a “contains” statement at the end of the list of ingredients.[4] MadeGood Granola Minis and Bars are school safe and allergy friendly because they are made in a facility free from all 10 priority allergens identified by Health Canada: Peanuts, Tree nuts, Wheat, Eggs, Milk (Dairy), Sesame, Soy, Seafood (Fish, Crustaceans and Shellfish), Mustard and Sulphites. [5] .

Nutrition Facts Table[6]

The nutrition facts table can help you make informed food choices when grocery shopping. There are 13 core nutrients that must be listed in a nutrition facts table and many others are optional. On packaged foods the nutrition information is based on a serving size which is shown at the top of the Nutrition Facts table. You can discover the food’s nutritional value (amount of calories and nutrients) for the declared serving size by looking at the percent Daily Value (% DV) column.  % DV can be used as a simple ‘rule of thumb’ with 5% DV or less meaning a little, and 15% DV or more meaning a lot of a nutrient. Use the Nutrition Facts Table to compare 2 products to make informed food choices. [Dietitian’s Tip look for foods with: INCREASED Fibre and LESS Saturated fat, Sodium, Sugars].

MGCN-CrispySquares-Vanilla-Nutritional Panel-V2

Other information you may see on labels (ex Vegan, Kosher, GF, Organic etc.

Canada-Icons

Front of Package (FOP) labelling in the form of symbols, logos, and designs provide a simplified summary of the features of food products. Check out what’s behind MadeGood’s healthiness. [522] (list FOPs, link to blog page)

Lucia Weiler is a Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist) and Professional Home Economist with a passion for food, health and wellness. She is the President of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc. a consulting practice that provides expert services in nutrition trends, education, food safety and labelling compliance.  Lucia is a pro at translating the science of nutrition into easy to understand, practical advice for Canadians. She is faculty at Humber College and Member of the Board of Directors for Dietitians of Canada. For more insightful nutrition tips visit www.weilernutrition.com or follow on Twitter/Instagram @LuciaWeilerRD

[1] Health Canada (2011)

[2] Food Allergy Canada, Understanding food labels.   http://foodallergycanada.ca/allergy-safety/food-labelling/

[3] Duyff, (2017) Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

[4] Canadian Food Inspection Agency (2016) List of Ingredients and Allergens.  http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/list-of-ingredients-and-allergens/eng/1383612857522/1383612932341?chap=2#s7c2

[5] Health Canada ( 2016) Food Allergies and Allergen Labelling – Information for Consumers http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/information-for-consumers/fact-sheets-and-infographics/food-allergies/eng/1332442914456/1332442980290

[6] Health Canada (2015) Nutrition facts tables. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/understanding-food-labels/nutrition-facts-tables.html#a3

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Eating

 These days so many people are trying out gluten-free foods whether it’s medically required or not.  For people with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which the small intestine is damaged by gluten, the treatment is to eat a strictly gluten free diet. Some people who don’t have celiac disease say they feel better when they don’t eat gluten. It may be that they have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). If you’re just starting with a gluten-free diet, it’s a good idea to consult a dietitian who can answer your questions and offer advice about how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy, balanced diet.[1]

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and some oats. Gluten is also found in other whole grain foods related to wheat, including bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt, and triticale. Gluten comes from the Latin word for glue – which tells you about its role in baking. Gluten gives dough its elasticity and bread a chewy texture. In many other foods gluten may be hidden in ingredients or added as thickeners and sauces.

Gluten Free Oats

Regular oats are not necessarily gluten-free because they can often contain some wheat, rye or barley as a result of the way they are grown, harvested and transported along-side these other grains.[2]  Until recently experts were concerned about gluten found in oats, but now there are oats that are gluten free. This is good news since unless people are very careful, a gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Oats are such a wholesome cereal grain with nutritional benefits including fibre and vitamins, and it’s great that a variety of gluten-free oats are now available for people on a gluten-free diet. Made Good granola bars and minis contain oats that are naturally gluten-free.  Knowing that a food is made with ‘gluten-free’ type oats helps ensure that people with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity know that the food is safe for them to eat because it is different from regular oats.

Gluten Free Foods

Many foods are naturally gluten free, including starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice. Vegetables, fruit, beans and peas are also gluten free as are dairy and meat. Grain foods that are packaged and show a gluten free icon are guaranteed by the manufacturer to be gluten free. Health Canada’s requirement for gluten free labeling is less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten in food, which is considered nutritionally insignificant and will not harm people sensitive to gluten. Made Good Foods’ granola snacks carry the GF label and are gluten free foods.

Lucia Weiler is a Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist) and Professional Home Economist with a passion for food, health and wellness. She is the President of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc. a consulting practice that provides expert services in nutrition trends, education, food safety and labelling compliance.  Lucia is a pro at translating the science of nutrition into easy to understand, practical advice for Canadians. She is faculty at Humber College and Member of the Board of Directors for Dietitians of Canada. For more insightful nutrition tips visit www.weilernutrition.com or follow on Twitter/Instagram @LuciaWeilerRD


Understanding Food Labels – Ingredient list & Nutrition Facts

[1] Mayo Clinic (2014) Gluten-free diet  http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530

[2] Health Canada (2015)  Gluten Free Labelling,  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/cel-coe/avoine-gluten-oats-eng.php