Understanding food labelling in Australia
Making healthy choices at meal times is extra important if you're dealing with fussy eating. Read our tips on food labelling and understanding nutrition information.
Food labels can be confusing at first glance, all that small type and lists and tables. But if you take a minute to get to know them, food labels can be your best friend when you’re looking for healthy choices for yourself or your child.
In Australia, most packaged food must meet strict standards for labelling with clear nutrition information, information for people with food allergies, food additive listings and food storage instructions.1 Knowing where to look on the label will help you make better choices in the supermarket, and help you keep your meal times focused on balanced nutrition.
Remember, all labels on food in Australia must tell the truth, and any health claims on food labels must follow strict rules set out by the Government. So you can be reassured that the information you find on the PediaSure label has been properly researched and verified.1,2
Ingredients list 1,2
Ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight, so the ingredient that the food contains the most of is at the start of the list. If a food has lots of fat, salt or sugar in it, you’ll see it in the first few ingredients.
Additives like preservatives, colours or thickeners must be identified in this list, so for additives you want to check, look here first.
Ingredients that commonly cause allergies must be declared here.
Nutrition table 1
This is the most important part of the label when you’re trying to make healthy choices. It can help you assess if the food you’re choosing contains good amounts of things like protein, healthy fats and vitamins and minerals. It also shows you how much of the food is considered ‘1 serve’.
This panel is particularly useful to check when you’re comparing similar products, to help you decide which product has the high protein or low sugar levels that you’re looking for.
Health claims on foods must be properly supported and meet strict standards set out by the Government, so you can be reassured the information you read about health on a food label has been properly verified1,2
Instructions and indications
As a food for special medical purposes, PediaSure should be used under the direction of your dietician, doctor or other health professional. These panels state who PediaSure is suitable for and show you how to use it. But remember always to consult your doctor or dietician when making decisions about your child’s diet.
Food for special medical purposes3
PediaSure is a food for special medical purposes, which means it can only be sold by a medical practitioner, dietician pharmacy or responsible institution. Foods in this category must also meet strict food standards for the levels of nutrients they contain to ensure they are suitable for use as the sole source of nutrition, like PediaSure.
Any key warnings or statements must be clearly legible, including storage conditions and best before dates.
1. Eatforhealth.gov.au. How to understand food labels. Available at https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/how-understand-food-labels accessed May 2018.
2. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Food labels what do they mean? Available at https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/PublishingImages/170314-interactive-labelling-poster.pdf accessed May 2018.
3. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Food for special medical purposes. Available at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/foodspecial/Pages/default.aspx accessed May 2018.