Health Promotion Guidance: Nutritional Guidance for Children and Young People in Residential Care Settings

Health promotion guidance for children and young people in residential care settings

Annex D Food traffic light labelling

Checking the label

Understanding food labels is helpful when you are trying to provide a healthy diet. Nutrition information on packs helps to identify foods that have a high, medium or low content of sugars, fats, saturates and salt. Reading and comparing food labels helps make healthier choices.

Some foods have nutrition labels on the front of the pack. This means you can easily see if the food you're looking at has high, medium or low amounts of sugars, fats, saturates or salt in 100g of the food:

high, medium or low content of sugars, fats, saturates and salt

Try to pick products with more low and medium and fewer high symbols.

The guide below will help you to check whether the levels of fat, sugars and salt are high, medium or low using the nutrition information on the back of most packs.

high, medium or low content of sugars, fats, saturates and salt


Use the 'Carbohydrates (of which sugars)' figure in the nutrition information panel (usually found on the back of food packets).

The sugars figure in a nutrition panel is the amount of total sugars in the food. It includes sugars from fruit and milk as well as the sugars that have been added. If a food contains lots of added sugars these will listed near the top of the ingredients list.


Many food labels break down nutritional information into different types of fat: saturates, monounsaturates and polyunsaturates. Since it's important to cut down on fat and to try to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat, check the label and choose foods which are lower in fat and lower in saturates.


Lots of food labels state how much salt is in 100g of the food. Sometimes they only give a figure for sodium, or sometimes they might give both. You can work out roughly the amount of salt a food contains by multiplying the sodium level by 2.5.

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