how to read a baby food label

How To: Translate A Food Label

Posted in Baby Food Safety, Baby Health, Mum and Baby, Nutritional Information, Parent Know-How

Feel like you need a degree in nutrition to find the best foods for your family?

Australian food labeling laws mean packaged foods carry plenty of nutrition information. which is great when you need to know more about what goes in your trolley, but not so great when you’re time limited or shopping with kids. Understanding a little about what’s on a food label before you get to the shops can make it easier to interpret when you get there. Here are some top five label reading must knows;

1. Know your NIP (Nutrition Information Panel)

This is the most informative part of a food label so if you can learn to navigate this most of your ‘need to know’ questions will be answered. The NIP contains a standard list of nutrients set out in a standard manner defined by our food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). This info will generally be found in two columns; per serve and per 100g (or just one if the serve size is 100g).

The most useful info for making comparisons between different foods in a category is the per 100g column. The parents Jury has an at-a-glance nutrition guide for shoppers that can help you rate foods for sugar, salt and fat [pdf provided that can be linked here]

2. What’s in it? Check the ingredients list

Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight (from highest to lowest). As a rule, the first three ingredients will make up the majority of the product. The ingredient list can help you make more sense of the nutrition panel. For example, a breakfast cereal high in sugar per 100g may have lots of added sugar or it may contain dried fruit. The ingredients list can tell you this.

3. Allergy awareness

If anyone in your family suffers a food allergy or intolerance the allergen declarations are what you’ll be looking for on the food label. Required by Australian food law, foods, ingredients or components of ingredients known to cause allergic or adverse reactions must be declared on a food label regardless of their amount. These include;

• cereals containing gluten
• crustacea
• egg
• fish
• milk
• peanuts and tree nuts
• sesame
• soybeans
• sulphites in concentrations over 10mg/kg or more

See our Food Allergen Information here.

4. Negotiating nutrition claims

Nutrition claims highlight product benefits you may be unaware of. FSANZ, our food regulator defines what can and can’t be said on pack and all claims must be supported by what’s in the product label or NIP.

However it pays to check the nutrition information panel and ingredients list for the whole story. For example, a breakfast cereal may claim it’s a good source of iron and B vitamins but when you check the nutrition panel you may find it’s also high in added sugar and low in fibre, so perhaps not the best choice for kids.

5. Staying safe

Date marks will give you a guide as to how long you can keep food before it starts to deteriorate or becomes unsafe to eat.

Most foods will carry one of two types of date markings; Best Before or Use Buy.

Use By: Perishable foods carry a Use By date and for health and safety reasons should be eaten before their Use By and thrown away after. Foods can’t be legally sold beyond their Use By date.

Best Before: The majority of foods sold will have a Best Before date. These foods remain safe to eat beyond this date, but they may have lost some quality. These foods can also be legally sold beyond their Best Before date provided they remain ‘fit to be consumed’.

No date: Foods with a shelf life of more than 2 years (cans and jars) are not required to carry any date markings because their life is so long it’s unlikely that they will spoil before they are consumed.

For more information check out the nutritional guide on parent's jury.

About the Author

About the Author: Rafferty’s Garden is a brand brought to life by our love of good food and by our belief in ensuring Australian babies get an amazing start to their food journey. .

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  1. Pat says:

    I am trying to place an online order from Woolworths yet before I purchase anything I ALWAYS check the country of origin. Why is it I cannot find ANYTHING about that there or here? You sure spend a lot of money of marketing yet I cannot find BASIC information about your products. It’s beyond frustrating. Please, please provide intelligent and comprehensive facts about the ingredients and their origin. I would be so grateful. Right now, however, I have to boycott your brand until I can get that clarified. Thank you.

    • The Rafferty's Garden Team says:

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks for your query about our Rafferty’s Garden products. All of our packaging labels clearly show where the product was manufactured, as well as the percentage of Australian ingredients, in compliance with new Australian packaging regulations. We are working to update our website to reflect this information.

      We can advise that all of our pouched products are made in Australia with as many of the ingredients sourced from Australia as possible.

      Consumer safety is of the utmost importance to Rafferty’s Garden. We ensure that the supply of ingredients used in our Rafferty’s Garden products are manufactured according to very strict quality assurance and processing guidelines.

      We ensure that all of our products, ingredients and labelling comply with food regulations and are confident in the safety of our products. If you have any further queries, you can contact our Consumer Services department at info@raffertysgarden.com.

      We hope this addresses your concerns.

      The Rafferty’s Garden Team.

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