Food Packaging Labels: What Do They All Really Mean?

Confused by food labels? You aren't alone. Walking along the aisles of a supermarket, it can seem impossible to tell the difference between "whole wheat" and "multigrain," "reduced fat" and "low fat" -- even choosing an organic or free range meat isn't as straightforward as the label would have you believe. But before you dismiss all that information as marketing, keep in mind that many of those labels have a legal definition and are regulated by a federal agency.

The truth is that food labels are managed in tandem by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. While the USDA handles meats, animal products, grains and produce, the FDA takes care of grocery items and many of the labels related to nutrition characteristics, like fat content, calories and vitamins.

Want to learn how to navigate food package claims without a government database? Read on for our breakdown of what's behind each of these 15 popular package labels:

Understanding Nutrition Labels