Food label: ingredient list

Important notice: The information on this web page is under review.

The ingredient list shows all the ingredients in a packaged food.

Ingredients are listed in order of weight, beginning with the ingredient that weighs the most and ending 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.

Example: The ingredient list below is for bran cereal. The ingredient that is present in the largest amount is whole wheat, and the ingredient present in the smallest amount is minerals.

Ingredients: Whole wheat, wheat bran, sugar/glucose-fructose, salt, malt (corn flour, malted barley), vitamins (thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, d-calcium pantothenate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide).

Did you know?

Reading the ingredient list is both important and useful. It can help you:

  • Check if a food product has a certain ingredient.
  • Avoid ingredients in case of a food allergy or intolerance.

Ingredients with many names

Sometimes nutrients like saturated and trans fats, sodium, and sugar appear on ingredient lists under many different names. Here's a list of the most commonly used terms.

Commonly used terms
Nutrient Other names
Saturated fat
  • Bacon
  • Beef fat
  • Butter
  • Chicken fat
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut or coconut oil
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Lard
  • Palm or palm kernel oil
  • Powdered whole milk solids
  • Shortening
  • Suet
  • Tallow
Trans fat
  • Hard margarine
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Partially hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Shortening
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Brine
  • Celery salt
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Garlic salt
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Onion salt
  • Salt
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium bisulfate
  • Sodium proprionate
  • Soy sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice extract
  • Corn syrup
  • Demerara or Turbinado sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose-fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Liquid sugar
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle

Tip: A word ending in "ose" is usually sugar.

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