How well can you read a food label? I’m sure you’ve heard of Serving Size and Percent Daily Value – but can you really read the label properly?

My son and I visited the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign booth in collaboration with the Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), Health Canada, Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and we were put to the test.

The NFEC “Focus on the Facts” was created to help Canadians use the Nutrition Facts table (NFt) to make informed food choices by starting with the Serving Size and then looking at the Percent Daily Value (% DV).

By using the Serving Size and % DV in the NFt, consumers can choose foods that have more of the nutrients they want like fibre and calcium, and less of those they don’t want, like saturated and trans fats and sodium.

My son was quizzed on ten facts about the Nft, where he was taught how to read the table. For each correct answer, he was given a chip that we took over to play a “plinko” type game to win some prizes.

Getting to Know the Nutrition Table

Here are some FACTS on Nutrition Labels:


A nutrition facts table gives you information on:

  • serving size
  • calories
  • % DV

It also gives you information on the 13 core nutrients: including fat, saturated and trans fats, sodium, fibre, sugar, and more


Serving size is not necessarily the suggested quantity of food you should eat. The serving size tells you the quantity of food used to calculate the numbers in the nutrition facts table.

By checking a product’s serving size, you can:

  • understand how much of a nutrient you are eating
  • compare calories and nutrients between 2 similar packaged food products
  • compare it to the amount you actually eat


You may be eating more or less than the serving size listed in the nutrition facts table. Adjust the calories and nutrients based on how much you eat.

The percent daily value (% DV) tells you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a particular nutrient.

  • 5% DV or less is a little
  • 15% DV or more is a lot

Serving Size

The information in a nutrition facts table is based on the serving size. Serving size can be found at the top of the nutrition facts table.

You can use a nutrition facts table to compare the serving size to the amount of food you actually eat.

For example, the serving size of bread in a nutrition facts table could be 1 slice. But if you eat 2 slices, you need to double the amount of calories and nutrients.



How to Use Serving Size and % Daily Value

Step 1: Start with the serving size under the header, “Nutrition Facts”.

Step 2: Use the % Daily Value to see if a Serving Size has a little or a lot of a nutrient. Less than 5% DV is considered a little, more than 15% DV is a lot.

Step 3: Compare the nutrients to find your best choice. Look for foods high in protein, fiber, vitamin A, calcium, and iron, and foods low in sugar, sodium, and trans fats.

Getting to Know the Nutrition Table


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Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. I often get confused reading the “Fats” section of the facts table because the numbers don’t seem to add up to the total amount grams of fat and I’m not sure why.

  2. Melinda Jana Reply

    The daily serving varies from person to person, hard to know how much potassium and fats I should be consuming

  3. I find it challenging to compare food labels when serving sizes aren’t standard, ie. one cereal label may be for 1/2 cup, the next label will be for 3/4 cup.

  4. I’m pretty good with the nutritional decks, but I will admit, I always spend a little extra time comparing the serving size, relative to the package (i.e., how many servings in a bag). Sometimes, a serving is WAAAAAAY smaller than you think.

  5. I am confused sometimes trying to figure out the serving size.

  6. I find it hard comparing nutrition facts table of similar products but from different brands when the serving sizes are different.

  7. stacey dempsey Reply

    I find that the serving size is often deceiving and I have a hard time sorting out the fats correctly

    • I somewhat understand the label, bc of the different serving sizes its hard to compare.

  8. Sometimes i find it hard to work out what i will be eating in the math part , is it enough or to much ?

  9. Karry Knisley Reply

    I get confused with the serving size as every product is different. I forget to look at the serving size. Sometimes I think I am picking out something nutritional but based on the serving size it really is not as nutritious as first thought

  10. I think serving size is really the only thing that I need to be careful to look at

  11. I realized that I need to read the labels carefully…it can be quite confusing

  12. For the serving size of a particular nutrient I learned that less than 5% DV is considered a little, more than 15% DV is a lot.

  13. ivy pluchinsky Reply

    The small print and finding the time to read them while shopping and other people are behind you waiting for something in the aisle you are in!

  14. I learned that it is really important to look at portion size when reading calorie counts.

  15. I have been reading the nutrition labels for years and find them so difficult as to compare products you need ridiculous math skills.

  16. like everyone else, the only thing that i really have to look like is serving size.

  17. Nate Fuller Reply

    I used to read the labels without taking the serving size into account, big mistake! That lead to a lot of overeating and portion sizes being far more than recommended!

  18. BobbiJo Pentney Reply

    A serving size is not exactly as shown on the picture.

  19. I don’t find it too challenging but you have to watch for the serving size

  20. aaron reck Reply

    I learned that I like food with sugar in it. I try to eat better the labels help but when I want to really cheat the label helps too.

  21. Sometimes I find it confusing as the serving size is not always the same

  22. Patrick Siu Reply

    I find challenging that every product have thier own portion size

  23. I find trying to figure out how much sodium you should have when you have high bp hard to figure out.

  24. It’s tricky to compare nutrition facts on different brands/products when the serving sizes are quite different

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