Nutrition Labels: how to choose food products in an informed and responsible way

Nutrition Labels: how to choose food products in an informed and responsible way

Food labels are the only tool available to the consumer to guide their choices among the crowded supermarket shelves. They represent an effective communication tool and understanding them allows you to make more informed purchases. By providing information on the real characteristics of the product, the ingredients used and the quality, without obviously misleading, food labels allow you to set up a more correct diet: knowing and understanding them represents an act of responsibility aimed at safeguarding health.


Regulation (EU) 1169/11, now a reference text in the field of labeling, repeals the previous rules with the aim of harmonizing and simplifying the legal provisions of the various Member States.
The regulation is a “compromise” between:
– commercial needs (free movement of goods in the EU);
– attention to the consumer (eg allergens, origin, legibility, nutritional declaration…).
One of the main innovations of this legislation is precisely the nutritional labeling which, from 13 December 2016, becomes mandatory for the generality of the products, subject to some exceptions (listed in Annex V). These include non-prepackaged foods for which the possibility of a nutritional label is still provided, on a voluntary basis.


Each food label must have a nutritional declaration that illustrates to the consumer the nutrients present in food and the overall energy value, allowing him to follow a balanced and responsible diet.
The nutrition label is part of the mandatory information to be provided to the consumer for pre-packaged foods placed on the market, with the aim of raising the level of health protection, without neglecting the economic interests related to the free movement of goods.


The mandatory information to be included in a nutrition label are mainly presented in tabular format but, if space does not allow it, they can be presented in a linear format.
Annex 1 of the regulation contains the specific indications to be indicated in a nutritional declaration which must be made up of SEVEN ELEMENTS, listed below, whose values ​​are expressed per 100 g or per 100 ml of product:
– Energy value (kcal and kJ);
– Fats;
– of which saturated fatty acids;
– Carbohydrates
— of which sugars;
– Proteins;
– Salt.

In addition to the mandatory information, additions can be made with additional information which, if placed on the label, must be indicated in the same formats and in the same manner as the mandatory ones. This additional information is: monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyols, starch, fiber, minerals and vitamins.


Careful reading of the various items on food labels, at least at the time of the first purchase, allows you to make better and more informed choices. The list of ingredients in fact presents essential information for the health of allergic and / or intolerant subjects, thanks to the declaration of allergens. Furthermore, this list represents a very important tool for assessing the quality of the product, but it is not sufficient on its own to give the consumer a perception of the nutritional impact. The list of ingredients is therefore to be integrated with the information contained in the nutritional declaration which, on the label, is expressed both per 100 grams or milliliters of product and per serving. The former allow the consumer to be able to compare two products belonging to the same product category, but with a different brand, while the latter provide information on the size of the portion and the impact it will have on the entire food day. A better understanding of the values ​​reported in the nutrition declaration also helps the consumer to monitor the daily intake of salt which, as indicated in various epidemiological studies, represents a cardiovascular risk as high consumption is associated with arterial hypertension.
Finally, it should be added that an accurate reading and understanding of the labels cannot disregard the fundamental principles of a correct and healthy diet.

If you wish to request advice, the team of Studio Santoro will be able to guide you in choosing the service that best suits your needs.