Decoding nutrition labels: understand what you buy and make healthier food choices

How often do you check the ingredients or origin of the food you buy?

Understanding and decoding nutrition labels might seem complicated or it might make your supermarket trip a bit longer, however it plays a key role in collecting reliable information and making informed food purchasing choices.

So what are the different types of food products, what type of information do their labels carry and what is the best way to read them?
Decoding nutrition labels
Decoding nutrition labels: understanding the different types of food

Food sold loose
Nutrition labels for food products that are sold without packaging such as ice cream, pastry, bakery, fresh pasta and gastronomy products should be placed on the sales container and should display the name of product, a list of ingredients, eventual allergens and if applicable expiry date as well as preservation methods.
Food packed or wrapped on site
Specific types of food such as fresh fish or meat, cheese and sliced cured meat that are packed on site or upon request should carry labels that clearly indicate ingredients or processing aids that may cause allergies or intolerances.
Pre-packed food
This category of food products that have been put into packaging by the producer and that remain packed and untouched until consumption require a food label that provides accurate nutritional values and certain key information. These nutrition labels might be the most tricky to decode.
Decoding nutrition labels
Decoding nutrition labels: mandatory information

Labels of prepacked food should display certain mandatory details that help consumers better understand the food they eat, its nutritional values, its origin and much more. More precisely, they should display:
  • food name
  • information of the manufacturer that is responsible for the food’s safety
  • net quantity declaration
  • nutritional declaration
  • allergens indication
  • expiry date
  • storage guidelines
  • country or place of origin
  • product use instructions (when necessary)
  • alcoholic strength by volume (for beverages containing more than 1,2% ABV)
Decoding nutrition labels
Decoding nutrition labels: Nutrinform Battery

Did you know that, on top of the mandatory data mentioned above, Italy has recently introduced an additional nutritional labeling system known as Nutrinform Battery*. This helps consumers better understand key food facts of each product quickly and efficiently.

In this way consumers can read the basic values of each single portion at a glance while each box indicates the amount of energy, calories, fats sugars and salts in a single portion.

The most interesting part? The percentage of energy, fats, saturated fats, sugars and salt contained in each portion compared to the daily intake recommended by the European Union; a great way to keep track of what you consume on a daily basis and therefore maintain a healthier and more balanced diet.

For more interesting facts on how to decode food labels and optimize your grocery shopping stay tuned!
*image source:
Decoding nutrition labels

Articles you might like