For a manufacturer to make various claims, their products must meet the following guidelines:
No added sugar – products must not contain added sugar, but may contain natural sugars.
- Reduced fat or salt – should be at least a 25 per cent reduction from the original product.
- Low fat – must contain less than 3 per cent fat for solid foods (1.5 per cent for liquid foods).
- Fat free – must be less than 0.15 per cent fat.
- Percentage of fat – remember 80 per cent fat free is the same as 20 per cent fat, which is a large amount.
Avoiding fats, sugars or salt requires careful checking
The ingredient list will specify the contents of a product. However, if you are trying to avoid fat, sugar or salt, they may be added in many forms and scattered all over the ingredients list. For example, ingredients that contain fat include:
- Beef fat
- Coconut oil or palm oil
- Sour cream
- Vegetable oils and fats
- Hydrogenated oils
- Full-cream milk powder
- Egg (cholesterol)
- Mono-, di- or triglycerides.
Oven fried and baked or toasted implies the inclusion of fat.
Ingredients that contain sugar include:
- Corn syrup
- Brown sugar
- Golden syrup
- Maple syrup
- Raw sugar
Ingredients that contain salt (sodium) include:
- Baking powder
- Celery salt
- Garlic salt
- Meat or yeast extract
- Onion salt
- Monosodium glutamate (msg)
- Rock salt
- Sea salt
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Sodium metabisulphate
- Sodium nitrate/nitrite and stock cubes.
Food labels can help people with allergies or intolerances to foods. Common foods that may cause allergies include: peanuts, other nuts, seafood, fish, milk, gluten, eggs, soybeans. The main foods or ingredients that may cause severe adverse reactions must be declared on the label no matter how small the amount.
There must also be information to alert people who may be unaware of a possible health risk from some ingredients: for example aspartame, quinine, caffeine, guarana, royal jelly, unpasteurised milk or egg.
Country of origin
‘Product of Australia’ means that significant ingredients must come from Australia and most of the processing should happen here too. A ‘Made in Australia’ statement may only mean that the food was ‘substantially transformed’ here and that a certain proportion of the production costs were incurred here. These definitions are currently under review.
Where to get help
- A registered nutritionist or registered public health nutritionist
- An accredited practising dietitian, for Australia contact the Dietitians Association of Australia
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Tel. (02) 6271 2222 for Australia or look for your countries by google
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