Have you ever looked at your groceries and wondered what all of the labels mean? Food labeling goes through a strict process, and if you’re interested in knowing more about food safety, this is the place to start. Considering that half of Americans find food labels misleading, it’s important to do your own research and decide for yourself.
That’s where this guide comes in. If you’re looking to learn more about the basics of food labeling, you’ll want to keep on reading.
Name of the Food
The principal display panel, or PDP, is the portion of the package that you immediately see when you’re walking down the grocery aisle. It contains basic information, like the net quantity and statement of identity. There are certain food packages designed with two or more panels as the principal display panel.
These additional panels are referred to as the alternate principal display panels, and they must also include the net quantity and name of the food.
The next label to look for is the net quantity. This is the amount of food contained within a package. This includes any liquid, syrup, or water that has been added to the food.
The net contents will be displayed in both U.S. Customary System as well as metrics. The metric may appear before or after the U.S. measurements.
Manufacturer Name and Address
The FDA requires that the food label make an obvious effort to identify the product’s manufacturer, packer, or distributor. There should also be an address as well. The name, city, state, and zip code are listed on the principal display panel or the information panel.
You should also see the name and address accompanied by the nutrition information or statement of ingredients. There are only certain products that are explicitly exempt from these laws.
Ingredients have to be listed by their common name in descending order. The ingredients that are predominant in weight or volume are first.
This also includes colors, flavors, and preservatives.
It’s important to note that those ingredients must have their role in parentheses followed by the ingredient. For example, if sodium benzoate is used, it must be mentioned that it’s a preservative.
If there are ingredients that are less than 2% of a product’s formula, they do not need to be listed in the same type of volume predominance order. It can be preceded by the phrase “contains less than 2% of the following…”
There is still a lot of debate about GMO labeling and if it’s necessary. It’s important to note the reasons why GMOs should be labeled.
All food meant for retail sale carries nutritional labeling. There are only a few exceptions. This is the part of the product you’re most familiar with since it contains all of the percentages and measurements found in that specific food item.
For maintaining a balanced diet, this is a label that you should be paying attention to. The percentages will give you insight into how nutritious that item is.
Food Labeling Basics
It’s no secret that Americans are not getting enough nutrients. Perhaps one of the problems is that there isn’t sufficient proficiency in understanding food labeling. Once you can understand what you’re consuming better, it’s easier to change any bad habits.
Although this guide touches on the basics, like GMO labeling and nutrition facts, there’s plenty more to learn.
Looking for more articles like this? Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for all things food!