Five and 15 rule for food nutrients

Do you get confused trying to make sense of the nutrition labels on food? The federal government and the food industry are launching an advertising campaign meant to help consumers navigate this country’s confusing system.

Their message to us: just concentrate on the numbers on the far right, the number on the per cent daily value line, which shows how many of the suggested daily requirement or limit the product has. The numbers you should remember are five and fifteen.

Any listed nutrient that is below five per cent of daily value will be termed “a little”. Anything that is more than 15 per cent will be called “a lot”.

For instance, if you want more calcium or fibre in your diet, look for food with a per cent daily value of 15 per cent or more. On the other hand, if you’re looking to cut back on saturated fats or sodium, look for foods that list those ingredients at five per cent or less.

It’s a step in the right direction, but critics say there are still problems with these labels. For instance, there’s no standard amount for servings, you have to consult the amount line – and so you could be reading a calorie count for 10 or 15 chips, not the whole bag. Which means it may still be hard to make comparisons.

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