Be an informed shopper: Decoding the Nutrition Facts table found on egg cartonsBy Wendi Hiebert, PHEc
Have you ever wondered what the list of numbers, percentages and nutrients on a food label represent? This panel of information is the Nutrition Facts table. It exists to help Canadians understand the nutritional content of prepackaged food quickly and easily, and to provide a point of comparison between food items.1
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada require most packaged food, including egg cartons, to have a Nutrition Facts table. The table identifies the amount of calories and at least 13 core nutrients found in the serving size specified for that food.
Here are some guidelines to help you better understand the Nutrition Facts table for a carton of regular white or brown eggs produced in Canada:
Eggs are an excellent source of protein and offer an incredible amount of nutrition
You can easily see that a large egg provides, for example, 6 grams of protein, 10% of one’s daily requirement of vitamin A, and 6% DV of iron. These quantities are shown as actual amounts and some are also listed as % Daily Value (% DV).2
The % DV lets you know if the food contains a lot or not that much of each nutrient. It is based on the Recommended Daily Intake of nutrients for healthy adults.3 As a general guide, anything under 5% is a small amount, while 15% and above is a lot.
While it’s important to keep in mind how that particular food fits into your overall diet, you generally want to see higher numbers for fibre, vitamins and minerals, and lower numbers for fats and sodium.
Not all of the nutrients found in foods are listed on the Nutrition Facts table. The 13 core nutrients that appear in the Nutrition Facts table were selected because health professionals consider them to be important to long-term health.
How is the egg carton’s Nutrition Facts table determined?
Egg Farmers of Canada works with a statistician and specialized lab to identify the Nutrition Facts table for regular white and brown eggs. To do this, a statistician creates a specialized sampling plan that represents the supply of regular eggs produced in Canada.
This plan outlines how many eggs should be analyzed and from which regions, to ensure that the collected eggs represent a snapshot of the eggs available to Canadian consumers. These eggs are collected from farms across the country and delivered to a specialized lab for nutritional analysis.
These values are then recorded in the Canadian Nutrient File, a database managed by Health Canada containing nutritional values for thousands of foods commonly eaten by Canadians.5
Because the nutrient values declared on the Nutrition Facts table must be represented by a single rounded number, the raw nutrient data are rounded up or down based on predetermined criteria set by the Food and Drug Regulations.4
Why are the Nutrition Facts tables different on some types of eggs?
The grading stations, where eggs are packed into cartons, define the Nutrition Facts tables for cartons of specialty eggs that have been enhanced nutritionally such as Omega-3, and vitamin D enhanced. These variety of eggs undergo testing to determine their nutritional contents and the information displayed on the Nutrition Facts table.
How is the data in the Nutrition Facts table checked for accuracy?
The CFIA is responsible for monitoring food labels. They have the authority to randomly test food products to ensure appropriate values have been declared on the Nutrition Facts table.6
Some variance in the nutrients is allowed since foods (especially those produced naturally) can vary from sample to sample.
Be an informed shopper: Use the Nutrition Facts table!
When you’re buying eggs, understanding the nutritional information on an egg carton will help confirm you’re making a healthy food choice.
Visit eggs.ca for more information on egg nutrition.
Wendi Hiebert is a Professional Home Economist and food writer, and a long-time egg lover. She is especially fond of devilled eggs, poached eggs, egg salad sandwiches, frittatas, pickled eggs…..
¹ Health Canada: The Nutrition Facts Table
² Health Canada: The % Daily Value
³ Government of Canada: Percent daily value
⁴ Canadian Food Inspection Agency: Rounding Rules
⁵ Health Canada: The Canadian Nutrient File
⁶ Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Nutrition Labelling Compliance Test