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How To Read A Product Label
Nutrition Information

How to Read a Label

As you look for healthier foods, you can easily find the right products just by reading nutrition labels. Almost all packaged foods require an up-to-date, easy-to-use nutrition information guide. By understanding this food label, it's simple to make quick, informed choices. You can use this helpful guide as a key to compare nutrition labels and choose foods that fit your healthy lifestyle:

Product Label Example
Serving Size - Start here to check the serving size and number of servings per package. Serving size is shown in both household measures (such as cups) and metric amounts (grams). The nutrient information listed at the top of the nutrition label is per serving. Compare it to your actual portion: if your portion is twice the serving size, you're consuming twice the calories, fat, sodium, etc. listed on the label.
Calories and Calories from Fat - Calories tells us how much energy a food provides, while calories from fat tells us how much comes from fat. Control calorie intake to manage weight: if you consume more calories than you expend you will gain weight. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that 20-35% of your total calories should come from fat.
List of Nutrients - These are the nutrients that have the greatest impact on health. They can be divided into two groups; those that need to be limited and those that you need to get enough of. Most Americans need to limit their total fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Too much fat and cholesterol, especially saturated fat and trans fat, are linked to an increased risk of heart disease; excess sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure. In contrast, most people don't consume enough fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, or iron, putting them at risk for other health conditions such as osteoporosis.
Percent Daily Values (%DV) - This helps you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient (based on 2,000 calories a day). A DV of 5% is low, while 20% is high. Aim low for nutrients like fat, sodium; and high for vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Footnote for Daily Values - This is a reference chart listing the Daily Values (DV) or recommended daily intakes for healthy people. The DVs in the chart are based on an intake of 2,000 or 2,500 calories a day. Note that some of the Daily Values listed are maximums (such as fat, saturated fat and cholesterol). Some nutrients do not have a DV established (like sugar and trans fat) because health experts have yet to set one. Individuals should adjust the daily values to fit their own calorie intake, as you may need less or more than 2,000 calories per day.
Calories per gram - The three nutrients that provide our bodies with calories (energy) are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. This tells you how many calories per gram the 3 energy nutrients provide. Notice that per gram, fat provides twice the number of calories as protein or carbohydrate.

* This label is only a sample. Exact specifications are in the final rules. Source: Food and Drug Administration 1993

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Calories per Gram Daily Values Percent Daily Value List of Nutrients Calories From Fat Serving Sizes