What are nutritional values?
The nutritional value of a food describes the amount of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and energy that can be used during digestion. Not only the quantitative nutritional content of a product is important, but also the nature of the respective nutrient, the relationship between the nutrients and the daily needs of a particular person. For example, some experts evaluate the unsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable fats higher in quality than the saturated fatty acids contained in animal fats. Therefore, it is important to know what proportion of the fats in a product are unsaturated or saturated fatty acids. It is also important to note how much of the nutrients a person needs. This value depends on the gender or age of the person concerned. CodeCheck gives two evaluations: The nutritional value traffic light evaluates the proportion of nutrients in a product with the traffic light colors. The daily requirement list shows what proportion of the daily requirement the product covers for an adult. CodeCheck uses guide values for people with predominantly sedentary work and moderately active leisure activities. Hence, the needs of physically working people and recreational athletes are higher.
What does the nutritional traffic light mean at CodeCheck?
The nutritional traffic light offers a quick look at where nutrition experts place the content of a nutrient (fat, saturated fatty acids, sugar and salt) in a product: red, yellow, or green. According to the British Food Standards Agency (FSA), green means that the product can be eaten often without hesitation, yellow warns more caution and red alerts to consume it sparingly. The values given apply to an adult woman - thus, a child should consume less and a man can consume more of the product to achieve the same values. How much fat, saturated fatty acids, sugar or salt you need depends on the energy requirement for one’s age, gender and occupation. For example, women and children should eat less fat than men and children should consume as little sugar as possible. Athletes and physically hard-working people can allow for a higher intake. In general, however, one can assume that we eat too fatty, salty and sweet - so less is more! With the introduction of the nutritional value traffic light in the form of a NutriScore on packaging in Europe, healthy eating will be made even easier in the future.
CodeCheck opted for this rating system precisely because of the simplicity and comparability of the traffic lights. The traffic light system is not only easy to read and understand, it also offers a quick product comparison with regard to nutritional values - the value is always given for 100 grams of the product. The calorific value is only indirectly taken into account when calculating the “traffic light”. To find out exactly how much of a nutrient is covered by a product, the daily requirement list can be consulted.
Criteria for 100g of food
|fat||up to 3 g||3 - 17,5 g||above 17,5 g|
|saturated fat||up to 1,5 g||1,5 - 5 g||above 5 g|
|sugar||up to 5 g||5 - 22,5 g||above 22,5 g|
|salt||up to 0,3 g||0,3 - 1,5 g||above 1,5 g|
Criteria for drinks (per 100ml)
|fat||up to 1,5 g||1,5 - 8,75 g||above 8,75 g|
|saturated fat||up to 0,75 g||0,75 - 2,5 g||above 2,5 g|
|sugar||up to 2,5 g||2,5 - 11,25 g||above 11,25 g|
|salt||up to 0,3 g||0,3 - 0,75 g||above 0,75 g|
The daily requirement is not always the same for everyone: a man burns more energy than a woman, and a woman may need more of different nutrients. For example, when a woman is breastfeeding - the daily requirement display at CodeCheck gives average guide values. Therefore, an adult woman needs around 2000 calories a day. This value is ideally covered by around 45 grams of protein, 230 grams of carbohydrates and 73 grams of fat. For the sake of simplicity, so far the daily requirement has only been given for an adult woman. For an adult man the value is slightly more (calorific value 2550 kcal, 55.5 grams of protein, 290 grams of carbohydrates, 92.5 grams of fat).
How much is good for me?
Recommendations of the FSA (Food Standards Agency)
|(cal / day)||(g / day)||(g / day)||(g / day)||(g / day)||(g / day)|
Not all fat is the same. Whether it's good or bad for your health, it depends on the type of fat. For example, experts evaluate the unsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable fats higher in quality than the saturated fatty acids contained in animal fats. Therefore, unsaturated fatty acids should be consumed, but saturated fatty acids should be reduced. CodeCheck always shows whether the fat content of a product is in a low, medium or high range, as well as how high the proportion of saturated fatty acids is. The values are based on the information provided by the British Food Standards Agency, and relate to 100 grams or 100 milliliters of the product.
Sugar appears under different names in the ingredients: sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fruit sugar, fructose, invert sugar, glucose syrup, maltodextrin or honey. Sometimes the sugar even "hides" in the carbohydrates. Experts recommend taking no more than 10 percent of your daily requirement in the form of sugar - that's 50 grams of sugar a day for women and 65 grams of sugar for men. The WHO even recommends that an adult eats a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar per day. If a product contains an above-average amount of sugar, at CodeCheck the term sugar is highlighted in red and labeled "high". Accordingly, the colors orange and green are used synonymously with the terms "medium" and "low". The values are based on the specifications of the FSА and relate to 100 grams or 100 milliliters of the product.
Table salt is vital. An adult should consume around two grams a day. According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), however, it should not be more than six grams, because too much salt is unhealthy. Even so, most people eat too much of it. CodeCheck gives you a quick look at whether the salt content of a product is in a low, medium or high range. The values are based on the information provided by the FSА and relate to 100 grams or 100 milliliters of the product.
Since December 2016, the EU Regulation requires the vast majority of pre-packed foods to bear a nutrition declaration. It must provide the energy value and the amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt of the food. Instead of the salt specification, one sometimes finds the sodium value; to get the salinity, it has to be multiplied by 2.5.
In addition to the mandatory food information, other food information can be provided on a voluntary basis. This includes possible and unintentional presence of allergenic substances, suitability of a food for vegetarians or vegans or information on the presence of gluten.
A label that is already printed on many food packages is the Guideline Daily Amounts, which was developed by the eleven largest food companies (Nestle, Coca Cola, Unilever, Danone, Kelloggs, etc.). The GDA declares what percentage of the daily requirement of the nutrient is covered by the product, leaving us confused by a multitude of values. The measures between the products are difficult to compare, as the nutrients are given for a "portion" instead of 100 grams of the food as the "traffic light" offers. This is apart from the fact that the specified portion sizes are sometimes not realistic. For example, the GDA recommends a “portion” of potato chips, a guideline value of 25 grams, which corresponds to around 12 chips. The traffic light informs you faster and tends to lead the food industry to revise product recipes from a nutritional point of view, in order to go from red to yellow or even to green. That is why health and consumer protection organizations as well as CodeCheck are campaigning for simple traffic light labeling on packaging such as the Nutri Score or the FSA traffic light.