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Food Labels


Food Label Terminology

Food label terminology can be confusing. Here is a collection of some of the terms you may find on food packages.

If the label says...
It means...
Calorie free
Less than 5 calories per serving
Low calorie40 calories or less per serving
Reduced calorieAt least 25 percent fewer calories per serving than the regular version
Cholesterol freeLess than 2 mg cholesterol and 2 g or less saturated fat per serving
Fat freeLess than 0.5 g fat per serving
Low fat3 g or less fat per serving
Reduced fat or less fatAt least 25 percent less fat per serving than the regular version
Saturated-fat-freeLess than 0.5 g saturated fat and less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving
Low saturated fat1 g or less saturated fat per serving
Reduced saturated fat or less saturated fatAt least 25 percent less saturated fat per serving than the regular version
Light or LiteOne-third fewer calories or 50 percent or less fat than the regular version; non-nutritive "light" claims are allowed but must identify the basis of the claim (examples: "light in color," "light in texture")
LeanLess than 10 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, and 95 mg cholesterol per serving
Extra leanLess than 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, and 95 mg cholesterol per serving

It's important to understand the terminology used in food labels. And it's just as important to know what ingredients are in the foods you eat. See the next page to learn how ingredients are labeled, and what you can learn about a food from its ingredients.

For more information about nutritious eating, see:

  • Eating Healthy: A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods is great for maintaining good health. Find out which food choices work best in a healthy eating plan.
  • Low Cholesterol Diet: Eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is the best way to reduce your cholesterol and your risk of coronary heart disease. Explore the dietary choices that can help you lower your cholesterol.
  • Weight Loss: For many people, weight loss is an important goal. Explore the different methods of losing weight, and see which can work for you.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.


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