Reading a New Food Label

Reading and deciphering a food label is like learning a foreign language to many students! Some get it quickly and easily, some don’t and require more practice! Reading a new food label is an interactive lesson that has students cutting, pasting, and annotating various pieces of label information before learning how to decipher the numbers to determine its healthfulness. Once students understand the concept, their label reading skills can be reinforced by practicing on empty food containers!


  • Ask students if they know how to read a food label (nutrition facts) and all of them will tell you, without a doubt, that they can!
  • Now ask students if they can decipher a food label (nutrition facts). Do they know if the numbers are high or low, good or bad, etc.? Most will tell you they can’t, that the numbers are confusing.
  • Share that it’s good that this class will teach them how to read and decipher those labels to help them evaluate their food choices!


  • iPads or Laptop
  • Scissors & Gluestick
  • Various Highlighter Colors
  • Empty Food Containers with New Food Labels (optional)


  • Begin by passing out the label sections that are out of order and have students cut them out.
  • Provide them with the Nutrition Facts blank handout. Students will utilize the resource “How to Understand &  Use the Nutrition Facts Label” guide sheet from the FDA so they can glue the cut label sections into the proper sequence under the heading.
  • Once the sections are glued in place and the new food label is complete, students again refer to the above resource by sections (#’s) and use the various colors of highlighters to annotate their label.
  • In the lesson attachment, there is a complete label just in case you want to use it as a key or you wanted to bypass the cut/paste part of the lesson. I just find the more my students work with the information, the more it sinks in and they understand it!
  • Now that the label is annotated, I like to show this YouTube video, “New US FDA Food Labeling Rules” (stop around 1:40) to recap the new changes they just spent time highlighting.
  • Now that the label is annotated, students can begin working through the questions, working with the the 5/20 High-Low Rule of reading and deciphering the various nutrient numbers.
  • Once the questions are complete, we practice applying their label reading/deciphering skills on empty food product labels set up around my room. This helps to reinforce the information and process in determining if a food is healthful based on the 5/20 Rule.
  • If students are still confused by the 5-20 rule, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that break it down. “How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label” is a more current one that may be helpful!


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