How to Read Food Labels

Reading food labels is a great way to choose healthier products but it can be confusing. Be wary of nutrition claims on the front of the pack (e.g. “source of vitamins and minerals”) and instead use this guide to help you read the nutrition information panel on the packaging. 

A note on Health Star Ratings

The Health Star Rating found on the front of some packaged products can help you compare similar foods. They range from ½ a star to 5 stars - the more stars, the healthier the choice when comparing items within the same food category. For example, when comparing a savoury biscuit to another savoury biscuit, not when comparing a savoury biscuit to a yoghurt. Products lose stars if they are higher in saturated fat, sugar and salt, and gain stars if they are higher in dietary fibre, protein, calcium, or other vitamins and minerals. 

Alternate Names for Ingredients

Other names for ingredients high in saturated fat:
• Animal fat/oil
• Beef fat
• Butter
• Chocolate
• Milk solids
• Coconut
• Coconut oil/milk/cream
• Copha

  • Cream
  • Ghee
  • Dripping
  • Lard
  • Suet
  • Palm oil
  • Sour cream
  • Vegetable shortening

Other names for added sugar:
• Dextrose
• Fructose
• Glucose
• Golden syrup
• Honey
• Maple syrup
• Sucrose

  • Malt
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Brown sugar
  • Caster sugar
  • Raw sugar
Other names for high salt ingredients:
• Baking powder
• Celery salt
• Garlic salt
• Meat/yeast extract
• Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
• Onion salt
• Rock salt
• Sea salt
  • Sodium
  • Sodium ascorbate
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Sodium nitrate/nitrite
  • Stock cubes
  • Vegetable salt

Project Partners

SWAP IT was developed by NSW Health and the University of Newcastle. Implementation support provided by the following partner organisations as part of externally funded scale-up trials:

Whilst brands may be depicted in these images and videos, SWAP IT and Good For Kids has no affiliation and do not endorse any specific food brand. We do not warrant that the information we provide will meet individual health, nutritional or medical requirements, or individual school policy.

Artwork: "The heart of a child" by Lara Went, Worimi Artist.