Using food labels to make healthier choices

What do the colours mean?

Green means low, amber means medium, red means high in that specific nutrient, go for foods and drinks with more greens and ambers, and fewer reds. To make healthier choices look for foods which have more green and amber and very few red traffic lights.

Sainsbury’s have several ranges which have very few, if any, red multiple traffic lights – e.g. Our ‘be good to yourself‘ and ‘my goodness‘ ranges. For products that are green on the multiple traffic lights they can be defined as being low in that nutrient (fat, saturates, sugar or salt).

Reference Intakes

The label also includes information which tells you about how much one serving of the product gives you as a proportion of the day’s recommendations for calories and nutrients. These recommendations are called Reference Intake values (RIs). These are based on an average female adult. They were formerly known as Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs).

Find out your daily reference intakes

For example the RI for saturates is 20g. If a serving of a product contained 10g of saturates, this would provide you with 50% of your RI (or half of your daily recommended intake).

It can be useful to use the RIs to consider what contribution the food is likely to make to your days intake of energy, fat, saturates, sugar and salt.

Know your serving sizes

Serving sizes are given on the pack to help you know how much of the food to eat in one sitting. By using this information you ‘ll be more able to keep within your reference intakes. This can be really helpful in tracking calories (energy) as on average people in the UK consume around 10% more energy (calories) than they need. This adds up to an extra 200 calories every day, which in a year can lead to one and a half stone weight gain in just 12 months.

More about our health labelling