Food

Understanding Food & Nutrition Labels

Food labels provide useful information to help you make smart choices when shopping for food. Learning to read food labels will enable you to choose food products best suited to your dietary needs, to avoid allergens and to eat healthier.

All pre-packed food for sale in Singapore must come with a food label that meets the requirements stated in AVA’s Food Regulations.

What's On a Food Label

Statement of Ingredients


The statement of ingredients lists all the ingredients used in the food product, in descending order of weight. This means the ingredient listed first is present in the largest amount and weighs the most, while the ingredient listed last is present in the smallest amount and weighs the least.

The statement of ingredients must clearly indicate ingredients known to cause hypersensitivity, for example cereals containing gluten (e.g. what, oats, etc.), eggs, milk and nuts.

You can find these ingredients in the main statement of ingredients and, in some cases, a “contains” statement that comes immediately after the main statement.

Nutrition Information Panel


The nutrition information panel (NIP), or nutrition label, is required when nutrition or health claims are made. The NIP must include the following information:

  • energy, in kcal, kJ or both
  • protein, in g
  • fat, in g
  • carbohydrate, in g
  • nutrients that are the subject of a nutrition claim or health claim, in g

What are nutrition claims?

A nutrition claim suggests or implies that a food has a nutritive property. Examples include, “High in fibre”, “Low in fat”, “Cholesterol free”, “Sugar free”.

What are health claims?

A health claim states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between consumption of a food product and health. Examples include:

  • "Dietary Fibre aids the digestive system"
  • "Inulin helps support growth of beneficial bacteria/good intestinal flora in the gut"
  • "A healthy diet rich in fibre-containing foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancers."

Expiry Date Marking


The expiry date marking indicates when a food product may lose its normal quality and nature. The food product should be eaten before the marked date.

However, the safety of a food product is not solely dependent on its expiry date. Food products that are stored or handled incorrectly can be unsafe to consume even if their expiry date has not passed.

Do check the food product for signs of spoilage(e.g. odour, bulging packaging, etc.) before consumption.

Examples of pre-packed food products which must be date-marked with an expiry date include:

  • Dairy products
  • Juice drinks
  • Chilled food products
  • Infants' food
  • Edible cooking oil
  • Flour, etc.

The expiry date validity for some food products is dependent on storage conditions. In these cases, the storage direction will be stated on the label. Examples include “Store in a cool, dry place” and “Keep refrigerated”.

Expiry date marking can be presented in 1 of the following ways:

  • USE BY (dd/mm/yy)
  • SELL BY (dd/mm/yy)
  • EXPIRY DATE (dd/mm/yy)
  • BEST BEFORE (dd/mm/yy)

Prohibited Claims

The use of misleading statements or claims on food labels and advertisements is prohibited. Food labels must not include claims which:

  • imply that a food has therapeutic or disease-prevention properties, or can prevent, alleviate or cure any disease or condition affecting the human body. E.g. "Effective in preventing or curing cancer", "Lower the blood pressure" and "For longevity";
  • could be interpreted as advice of a medical nature from any person. E.g. "Strongly recommended by doctors";
  • imply a food can improve health, physical condition or performance. E.g. "A runner can run faster after consuming the food";
  • imply that a food which is intended for babies is equivalent or superior to the milk of a healthy mother.

Top Tips for Savvy Shoppers

  • Read the statement of ingredients and check if food products contain allergens or additives you wish to avoid.
  • Read the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) to find out if food products meet your daily nutritional needs in terms of calorie or nutritional content.
  • Make the best food choices by using the information provided on NIPs to compare similar food products.
  • Take note of the expiry date markings on food products before buying them, and make sure you store your food products according to storage instructions, if any.

For more information on AVA’s labelling requirements, see Labelling Guidelines for Food Importers & Manufacturers.

Back to Top LAST UPDATED ON Sunday, January 18, 2015
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