Food Labels And Nutrition Terms Explained

Everything Shoppers Need to Know

Written by Meredith Hayes. Updated on Food Labels

Sometimes shopping can turn into some kind of puzzle-solving when we are trying to figure out the meaning of all those markings on the food labels. 

Have you ever been confused with the unclear terminologies, too? Do you want to be able to define certain markings from each other?

Then, for help with getting started, see the hints we have prepared below.

Basic Terms Explained

First of all, let’s begin with the major markings that we can meet on any foodstuff package.

Even though they may sound similar, their meaning is slightly different. Being aware of that, you will never discard foodstuff that is still edible again.

Use-by meaning

What is the use-by date? A “use-by” date indicates that a certain product must not be consumed after the indicated date, otherwise, it may be harmful to your health.

Can food be served on the use-by date, people often wonder? Well, we can tell for sure that it is highly recommended to consume the foodstuffs before this date comes since later the products will most likely cause you stomach problems.

Now that you know what use-by means, we hope that use-by date definition won’t become a problem for you anymore.

What does “bbe” mean on food?

BBE means Best Before End which is the same as a simply best-before date. Unlike a common belief, it is not about food safety, it shows the latest date when the foodstuff will be at its peak quality.

How long after the best-before date can we consume food? Usually, it is still edible for several days but everything hangs on a certain type of product.

What does “u” mean in food?

It is not so widespread sign, however, if you see it, be aware that it means the food is kosher. Kosher means that the foodstuff was processed according to the Jewish dietary laws.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition facts are no less important since many of us count calories and the level of fat we consume daily. 

Let’s see what information each marking contains.


It shows the amount of energy one gets after consuming the foodstuff. The average dose of calories for an adult man is about 2.500 whereas a woman requires 2.000 calories per day.


This marking is about the amount of fat foodstuff carries in general which means both saturated and non-saturated. 

It is crucial to intake a balanced dose of fat since the excess mass of the body may lead to various health issues.


Understanding Food LabelsUnderstanding Food Labels

This sign means saturated fats. These are quite harmful since, when being intaken too much, they can cause heart problems and raise cholesterol.

So try to purchase food without this marking or at least buy it more seldom.


Carbs can be complex (starchy food) and simple (added sugars). To remain well, we need complex carbs to receive energy which means that bread, pasta, grains, and other foodstuffs are preferable unlike the sweets.


Basic Terms Explained
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Certain sugars are natural like those that fruits/berries have. Others are added and can be found in desserts and other foodstuffs.

To decrease the teeth ruination and excess weight, cut down the foodstuffs with extra sugars, and eat more natural sweet products.


Meat, fish, dairy, beans – all of them give us protein that helps our bodies to fix themselves.


10 Rules For Reading a Food Label10 Rules For Reading a Food Label

Keeping an eye on the amount of salt we intake can prevent our blood pressure from rising, besides, too much salt often leads to the liquid being unable to evaporate from our bodies which leads to swelling.

Health Claims

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Sometimes, we can find various claims put on the foodstuff packets, for instance, “digestion-improving”, etc.

According to law, such markings must be supported by scientific researches and approved by the European Commission.

Also, foodstuff claims are not allowed to tell that a certain product can treat or prevent any illness or health issues.

Lite Or Light

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Since this marking is meant to show that a certain foodstuff is less fatty/has fewer calories, you’d better check the contents label since different brands may have an equal dose of fat being one normal and another one light.

No Added Sugar Or Unsweetened

Health Claims
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We often mistake these markings for the absence of sugar. Nevertheless, they only show what sweeteners were used for a certain foodstuff.

Now let’s take a closer look at both of them.

No Added Sugar

Nutrition: SweetenersNutrition: Sweeteners

It shows that no sugar was added as a component. Such a foodstuff can still be sweet and even have sugar (e.g. natural).

Respectively, this marking doesn’t guarantee that the product has a low sugar level.


Photo by Arwin Neil Baichoo on Unsplash

This one indicates that no sweetener was added to make the foodstuff taste sweet.

Again, such a food can still contain natural sugars.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ How accurate are nutrition labels?

It depends. For instance, according to law, quite a wide latitude is allowed regarding the accuracy of the calorie amount on a food label (20% in either direction). Also, certain brands have their own specific requirements regarding certain markings (e.g. sugar level).

⭐ What is the 5/20 rule in nutrition?

This is simple: each product must contain 5% (or less) of bad nutrients and 20% or more of good ones.

⭐ What are the 5 required food label components?

These components include calories, total fat level, sodium, total carbs, and protein.

⭐ What are the 3 types of nutrition?

The three types of nutrients that must be present on the label include carbs, protein, and fat.

⭐ What is required on a nutrition label?

Each food label must inform the consumer about the number of calories, fat level, protein content, carbs, and sodium amount that a certain foodstuff has.

⭐ What foods are not required to have a nutrition label?

Raw fruits, berries, mushrooms, vegetables, fish, as well as tea and coffee don’t require nutrition labels with the content.

We do hope that this brief summary will be useful for you when you will be doing your shopping next time. Since food labels can be rather confusing, we tried to tell about the basic and most widespread markings that can be met on them. Like this, it will be hopefully simpler to figure out the exact health value of certain foodstuffs.

Take care!

Written by
Meredith will assist you with your health and family problems. She is a professional therapist who has huge experience in the field of family health care.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
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