Understand Nutrition Claims
Package Claims: What Do They Mean?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows food manufacturers to use on packaging only a handful of nutrition claims, which are defined by the FDA. The manufacturer must support any nutrition claim (such as "no sugar added") on the package by listing the related nutrients on the Nutrition Facts label. There are no regulations on the placement or design of the claim, which makes comparing products difficult—until you look at the nutrition labels side-by-side.
When the word "no" appears on a food package, it means that food item contains no amount or trivial amounts of the particular nutrient advertised, such as cholesterol or salt.
Other terms that can be used to claim “no”: free; without; zero
The word "low" on a food package applies to foods that don't easily exceed the dietary guideline for the nutrient, such as sugar or sodium.
Other terms that can be used to claim “low”: low source of; few; little; contains a small amount of
When the word "reduced" appears on a food package, it means that food product is different from the regular food and contains at least 25 percent less of a nutrient or calories.
The word "lower" on a food package means that food contains 25 percent less of a nutrient or calories than the regular food.
Other terms that can be used to claim “lower”: less; fewer
"Excellent Source Of"
The phrase "excellent source of" on a food package means that one serving of that food provides 20 percent or more of the daily value for that nutrient, such as dietary fiber.
Other terms that can be used to claim “excellent source of”: high in; rich in
"Good Source Of"
The phrase "good source of" on a food package means that one serving of that food provides 10-19 percent of the daily value for that nutrient.
Nutrition labels could get a makeover—the first update in 20 years. Read about the proposed changes here.