Understanding Food Labels

March 22, 2013 | Jeannette

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Nutrition labelDo you know the difference between the best before date and expiration date label? I’ve always thought they were the same thing. But according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, you can still buy and consume foods that have passed the “best before” date. However, the food may have lost its freshness, flavour, texture and nutritional value. This applies to unopened products only. On the other hand, food should not be eaten if the expiration date has passed. These items should be discarded.

Food labels contain a lot of information. However, often times consumers, like myself, do not understand it. The Government of Canada has a great Food Safety website that can help decipher food labels. Understanding the nutrition information on products is especially important for making better food choices for you and your family. It is essential for those who have special diets.

CrapHowever, it is common for companies to provide incorrect or misleading information on their products. The Toronto Star reported that usually when a product tries to convince you that it is healthy by using terms like “low in fat” or “no sugar added” it is usually not. In addition, the CBC found 10 products with misleading food labels.

With all the confusing labels on food products, it is best to know what to look for and understand how to read the nutrition information correctly.

Here are some books on understanding food labels:

Eating between the lines   Read it before you eat it  Read it with a grain of salt

The library also has a great collection of books on nutrition:

Basic nutrition   Nutrition a beginner's guide   Nutritionist
Coffee is good for you  Nutrition   Why calories count

So, remember to read the labels on food products carefully next time. But don't believe everything you read!