Nutrition labelling: List of ingredients

Learn about the list of ingredients and how to use it.

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What is the list of ingredients

Most prepackaged foods in Canada with more than one ingredient must have a list of ingredients. This list shows all the ingredients in a prepackaged food. It also provides important information for people with food allergies and intolerances to certain ingredients.

Figure 1. List of ingredients
Figure 1. Text version below.
Figure 1 - Text description

Shown here is the image of the back of a bilingual food label on a yogurt tub. A list of ingredients appears in the middle. A partial nutrition facts table appears on the right-hand side of the image. A universal price code (UPC) appears on the left-hand side of the image.

The first line starts with the word Ingredients, in bold, followed by a colon. This is followed by Whole milk, sugars, open parenthesis, sugar, strawberry puree, raspberry puree, blueberry puree, blackberry puree, close parenthesis. This is followed by the word Water, Milk protein concentrate, Modified corn starch, Natural and artificial flavour, Guar gum, Bacterial cultures, Carrageenan, Sodium citrate, Citric acid, Potassium sorbate, Sucralose.

The next line in the box starts with the word Contains, in bold, followed by a colon and the word Milk.

The next lines provide the list of ingredients information described previously in French.

How to use the list of ingredients

You can use the list of ingredients to:

  • check if a food product has a certain ingredient
  • identify sources of nutrients, such as sugars
  • avoid a food product in case of a food allergy or intolerance
  • understand how much added sugar is in the food compared to other ingredients

The list of ingredients lists all of the ingredients in a food product by weight. The list starts with the ingredient that weighs the most and ends with the ingredient that weighs the least. This means that a food contains more of the ingredients found at the beginning of the list, and less of the ingredients at the end of the list.

Some ingredients may appear at the end of the list of ingredients in any order, including:

  • flavours
  • food additives
  • seasonings (except for salt)
  • added vitamins and minerals
  • flavour enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG)

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