The Struggle of Food Shopping in a Foreign Country

April 30, 2015

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Nutrition Label Food Shopping Healthy UNH Blog
Photo courtesy of Jessica Palmer 

 Could the display of nutrition information on foods influence the health status of an entire country?

I have encountered some new food challenges while living in Australia: 

  • finding new brands and varieties of food products, 
  • using the metric system, and
  • reading the nutrition labels.

In the States we order our meat in pounds, not kilograms; refrigerated items are reference in Fahrenheit, not Celsius; and nutrition labels appear differently and in different units of measure. Try monitoring your calorie intake with foods measured in kilojoules-- it takes some getting used to!

I’ve added a photo of the nutrition facts on multigrain bread sold in Australia. As you can see the calories are in kilojoules, the servings per package are listed before the serving size, and the ingredients list includes percentages for some ingredients.

The nutrient levels are given per serving, per % daily intake, and per 100g of product. The layout is fairly similar to the US but just different enough to catch ones attention. On this package, the energy is listed as kilojoules and calories however many other products only have kilojoules which Americans are unfamiliar with.

The daily recommended intake for adults is listed as 8,700 kilojoules, which is equivalent to about 2,100 kilocalories (Calories).  This makes you wonder which nutrition label and units of measure are more consumer friendly.

Although these differences have made obtaining healthy foods a little bit more challenging for myself, it is a great learning experience. Next time you travel, take a look at the nutrition labels. Each country has regulations and labeling systems for foods.

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