What's on Our Food Labels?
Jessie Lan, HK BioTek Intern
Food labels help us understand what our food is made up of. It is by law that food packaging needs to come with food labels and they have to include certain types of information. This may vary between countries and regions but in Hong Kong, according to the Centre for Food Safety, the following information needs to be legibly marked on the food label of all prepackaged food, unless exempted.
Name of the food
List of ingredients
Indication of durability
Special conditions for storage or instruction for use;
Count, weight or volume
Name and address of manufacturer or packer
For the list of ingredients, they should be listed in a descending order of weight or volume and it is required to declare the presence of any of these eight substances which are closely related to food sensitivities and food allergies：
Cereals containing gluten
Crustacea and crustacean products
Egg and egg products
Fish and fish products
Peanuts, soybeans and their products
Milk and milk products (lactose included)
Tree nuts and nut products
Sulphite in concentrations of 10 parts per million or more
On the nutrition label, 1+7 items are required to be listed, they are energy+7 core nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugars.
When reading the nutrition label, it is important to compare the amount of different nutrients with the total energy content of food. For a 2000-kcal diet, it is recommended that the intake of total fat should be less than 60 g, which trans fat less than 2.2 g and sugar less than 50 g; sodium intake should be limited to 2000 mg per day, as a diet low in sodium is considered to be healthier. In addition, you should pay attention to whether the reference amount is by serving or by per 100g/ 100ml.