Food Labels

Food labels show information about the nutritional content of food, the percentage of characterising ingredients of the food (that is the amount of the main ingredients contained in the food), and also indicate the presence of possible allergens such as nuts.

Genetically modified food is labelled as such. So is irradiated food.

A best before date is included and the label should tell you how best to store the food.

A nutrition information panel lists ingredients in order of weight from the greatest amount to the smallest, per serve or 100g. Information on energy (kilojoules), protein, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugar, sodium (salt) and any other nutrient about which a claim is made must be included, for example “contains added iron”.

Food additives are shown, usually represented by numbers which can be looked up in an additive code book. The origin of the food is also shown, such as the country or region from which it originates.

Food labels are essential guidelines for consumers with allergies, food intolerance, preferences such as vegetarianism, religious restrictions such as kosher or halal rules, or those who are health conscious, for example people who want to reduce their weight or keep their cholesterol in check.

Not all food is labelled. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, food sold in restaurants, take-aways, bakeries and so forth do not require labelling by law, although as the consumer you always have the right to ask about the contents of any processed food being served or sold. Food packaged in front of you, for example at a delicatessen or a bakery, does not have to be labelled either.

The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited and the Ministry of Health jointly own the New Zealand Food Composition Database (NZFCDB) which is the largest and most comprehensive collection of nutrient data in New Zealand. The NZFCDB's primary role is providing up-to- date nutrient values for foods commonly consumed in New Zealand. It contains nutrient information on more than 2700 foods including moisture, ash, carbohydrate, protein, fat, cholesterol, caffeine, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and fibre. Accredited laboratories in New Zealand and Australia are used to analyse these nutrients in the foods. You can search the database for foods matching specific keywords. You can then use the food nutrition data on this website as it is, or in conjunction with your own systems, to calculate Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) information for your product. The website is NOT a NIP calculator but does provide some information about calculating NIP information.