Food label: how to read and what changes?

It is not always possible to maintain a homemade diet, with natural products that are far from industrial processes. From time to time, choosing a frozen lunch or fast food also does not harm your health – the secret is always balance and moderation.

However, knowing what is being ingested is always important. Therefore, packaging is a good ally when it comes to shopping and choosing foods. This is because they bring important information about the ingredients, additives and nutritional composition of the food.

Just look at any of them. Usually, it is on the back of the product that those small letters are.

It is not always easy to understand what it all means, so ANVISA has determined some recent changes in the labeling of processed foods , so that the information is clearer and more objective. But, still, it is necessary to know how to read the labels and nutritional table:


What is the food label?

The food label contains important information about what makes up the food. The goal is to clarify for people what they are putting on the table, both in relation to nutritional values ​​and the presence of allergenic ingredients, for example.

Some people have a habit of looking at labels, especially those with an allergy or intolerance. But the ideal is that everyone learns to interpret this information, because it is not always very clear what is consumed.

For example, it is not difficult to find foods that promise to be more natural or healthier, but actually have ingredients that prevent this categorization, such as excess sugar and sodium.

Since 2001, ANVISA determined that the packaging must contain this information. Despite this, it is not always easy to understand each point correctly. Therefore, it is worth getting to know them better:


In the list of ingredients, it counts everything that makes up the product. Some points are worth attention here, such as the organization of the ingredients. Thus, those that appear first are those in greater quantity in the product.

For example, if sugar appears among the top positions on the list, the product is rich in sugars. But if it is more towards the end, the amount is less.

Another important point is in relation to allergens. This means that a food does not always contain gluten , lactose, milk or soy, for example. But because it is processed in environments or equipment that process these products, there may be contamination.

That is, right after the list of ingredients, the label must inform whether the product contains, may contain or contains derivatives of allergenic ingredients.

Nutritional table

The nutritional table is also called the nutritional table. In it, it is possible to find the amount of components and nutrients contained in the product, for example, calories, carbohydrates , fibers, vitamins etc.

This account is made based on 2,000 calorie diets. But you need to pay attention to the portion set out in the table. For example, some portions can be 25g or 100g, which does not always make the calculation simple for those who consume.

A snack usually comes in packs of 90g, but the portions of the nutritional table are counted in 25g.

Some products, such as sliced ​​breads, indicate that the 30g portions are equivalent, for example, to 1 or 2 slices of bread. But in any case, it is always necessary to pay attention to what is called a portion.

Therefore, it is important to know what each term in the table means:


The portion is the amount of product, usually in grams (g) or milliliters (mL), used to calculate the nutritional values ​​in the table. So, all the information that will come in relation to the nutrients is based on the portion indicated. That is, the entire package or product unit probably has more grams than the portion indicated.

Amount per serving

The amount per serving indicates how much of each nutrient (calories, protein , sugar, sodium, etc.) has in each serving of the product.

That is, when a package of cookies says it has 150 calories per 30g serving, it does not indicate that there are 150 calories in the whole package, but rather in 30g (which can mean 2 or 3 cookies, generally). Thus, if the objective is to eat more or less units, it is necessary to make the proportional calculations.


In the nutritional table, there is the present amount of each nutrient in the indicated portion. Remember that the calculation is based on a 2,000 calorie diet, which is a general value. However, food is individual, and daily needs vary between people. Thus, someone who practices more physical activities will need different amounts of calories and carbohydrates than someone who leads a more sedentary life.

Likewise, vitamins and minerals can vary, as some people may find it difficult to absorb certain nutrients. In other words, what is on the nutritional table is only one parameter, and only nutrition professionals can better establish what the daily needs of each person are.

But, in general, the quantities are based on the following indications of ingestion:

  • Energy value: 2000 kcal / 8,400 kJ;
  • Carbohydrates: 300 grams;
  • Proteins: 75 grams;
  • Total fats: 55 grams;
  • Saturated fats: 22 grams;
  • Dietary fiber: 25 grams;
  • Sodium: 2400 milligrams;
  • Trans fats: there is no daily reference value.

That is, per day, a person must consume 2,000 calories, divided throughout the day, being composed of the indicated amounts of these nutrients.

% VD

DV% means daily value. It indicates how many percent of the daily intake recommendation for that nutrient the portion represents. For example, a 200mL portion of a juice contains 104 calories. This portion represents 5% of the recommended daily total, that is, it is equivalent to 5% of the 2,000 calories.

Changes in food labeling 2020

In October 2020, Anvisa’s Board of Directors approved some changes in food labeling. According to the agency, the goal is to provide more clarity and ease of interpretation in the information contained therein, so that food choices are more appropriate and conscious.

The changes include the presence of a new magnifying glass graphic on the front of food packaging that contains a lot of sugar, saturated fats and sodium. Therefore, if the product contains high concentrations of one or more of these components, there must be a clear indication of this.

To know this, just identify if the package has a magnifying glass, as shown in the images below:

In addition, the nutritional table itself will undergo changes, which facilitate visualization. Now they can only be produced and printed in black letters and a white background, which gives more hiring for reading.

Regarding the components listed, ANVISA has now mandated the differentiation of total and additional sugars.

It will also be necessary that the table informs the energy and nutritional value (carbohydrates, proteins, etc.) per 100g or 100mL portion, as well as the number of portions that are in the package. That is, it will be much simpler to know how to identify what is being ingested.

Knowing what is being eaten is important so that the population can take care of their own health and be more aware when choosing their food. The nutritional table has this objective: to bring information. Therefore, knowing how to read and understand what counts in it is fundamental.

The Healthy Minute helps you make better food choices.