Food labels give you information about the nutrition and ingredients in packaged food and drink. In Australia, these labels must meet strict requirements set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand


Learning how to understand this information can help you compare similar products and make healthier choices for you and your family. Here are some steps to get started.

Use the Health Star Rating

The Health Star Rating (HSR) is a quick and easy way to choose healthier packaged food and drink. The HSR takes the hard work out of reading food labels by rating food and drink from half a star to 5 stars – the more stars, the healthier the choice! 

example health star rating label

For products without a Health Star Rating on the label you can use the FoodSwitch Application.

Check the Nutrition Information Panel

The Nutrition Information Panel is usually on the back or side of the packet, often in a table called ‘Nutrition Information’. The panel lists the amount of certain nutrients in a serve and in 100g or 100ml of the product. 


Try to choose foods with less saturated fat, salt (sodium), added sugars and kilojoules, and more fibre. Using the per 100g / 100ml column can help you compare products more accurately. Don’t forget to check the number of servings in the pack. 

Example panel

Nutrition Information

Per serve

Servings in this pack: 16
Serving size: 30g (2/3 cup)

Per 100g


Energy
432kJ
1441kJ
Protein
2.8g
9.3g
Fat
Total
Saturated

0.4g
0.1g

1.2g
0.3g
Carbohydrate
Total
Sugars

18.9g
3.5g

62.9g
11.8g
Fibre
6.4g
21.2g
Sodium
65mg

215mg


For more detailed tips check the Eat For Health guide for understanding food labels.

Check the ingredients list

Listed from largest to smallest by weight, you can use the list to check if the product is high in saturated fat, sodium (salt) or added sugar.

Other names for added sugar

Other names for added sugar that you might find on the ingredients list include glucose, honey, sucrose, fructose or high fructose corn syrup, maltose, treacle, maple or golden syrup, molasses, hydrolysed starch, dextrose and many others.

Other names for sodium (salt)

Baking powder, celery salt, garlic salt, yeast extract, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sea salt, vegetable salt, sodium and many others.

Check claims about nutrition

Some products might make nutrition content claims such as ‘good source of calcium’, ‘low fat’, ‘reduced salt’ or ‘high in fibre’. Just because a product makes a nutrition claim does not mean it is healthy, for example a product with ‘low fat’ may still be high in kilojoules (energy) or sugar.

Check for allergens

Food retailers, manufacturers and importers all have a responsibility to manage and display allergens in food such as eggs, milk, tree nuts, gluten, fish and others.

Want to learn more and get healthier?

NSW Health provides free programs for eligible adults and families to help you stay healthy. As part of these programs you will learn more about understanding food labels (as well as lots of useful tips to create healthy behaviours) and receive support to set and reach your goals.

Get Healthy Coaching and Information Service