Activity Overview: In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the requirements for food labels leaving manufacturers several years to comply. As a result there may be two different food labels on the products around classrooms, lunchrooms, and homes. Both labels have the same information about food, but the format differs slightly.
Download and print or project the attached presentation of food labels for your class. Look for the measurement of calories, which appears near the top of the label below the information about serving size. Ask students what they notice about the calorie content of the new label. It's much more prominent than on the original label.
If you have completed the related activity Defining a Calorie, students will know that the measurement of calories denotes the energy content of the food. Otherwise, explain to students that the calorie is the measurement of energy most common in our lives because it is the standard measurement for food labels and dietary recommendations. More calories translates to more energy.
There are differences in food labeling requirements between different countries. Print or project the attached document for your students. It is a comparison of the US and UK food labels.
Ask students what they notice as differences between the two labels. Some points they could point out are listed here. Don't stop here! Encourage students to really explore and get familiar with the information contained on the food label.
If you've been working as a class up to this point, this is an opportunity to change organization down to a small group or individual level. Consider scheduling this activity before lunch, so you have more readily available foods available to compare. Alternatively, send this out as a lunchroom assignment for students. Ask them to find two different food labels from their lunchbox, canteen, or cafeteria. Students should be able to identify the Calorie content of the food, and then they should compare the two. Which food contains more energy per serving?
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