Ingredients on a label are listed from greatest to smallest based on their weight when added to the food.
The most common allergens must always be displayed on a food label, no matter how small the amount.
Compound ingredients are ingredients that are made up of several ingredients, for example, tomato sauce or chocolate. If a compound ingredient makes up less than 5% of the food, only the most common food allergens and any additives, eg. a preservative, must be listed.
Sometimes ingredient lists show a percentage in brackets next to an ingredient, eg. 'apples (26%)', which tells us the proportion of the main (or characterising) ingredients in the food. This is known as percentage labelling.
Nutrition information panel (NIP)
The nutrition information panel (NIP) shows the quantity of basic nutrients in the food per serving and per 100 grams.
Some packaged foods are exempt from the requirement to show an NIP, such as alcoholic beverages, water, herbs and spices, and prepared sandwiches.
The most common food allergens and sulphite preservatives must be listed in the ingredients list, or in a separate statement on or near the food. Warning statements such as 'contains peanuts' or 'may contain traces of egg or egg products' must be clearly visible on the package. See Allergy management.
Food additives, both natural and synthetic, are used to make processed foods easier to use, or ensure food is preserved safely. All food additives must be approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and appear in the ingredients list. See Additives.
Trans fats and fats
The amount of total fat and the amount of saturated fat in a product must be declared on food labels.
The amount of trans fat must also be declared on the label if a nutrition claim is made about cholesterol, or polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, eg. omega 3, omega 6 or omega 9 fatty acids. Trans fats are unsaturated fats but, unlike the 'good' unsaturated fats found in fish and vegetable oils, there are some health concerns.