"What's on a Food Label?" Quiz

woman looking at a food label

Image source: USDA/SNAP-Ed  
PDF printer-friendly copy of "What's on a Food Label?" Quiz
by Carol Schwarz, MS, RD and Alice Henneman, MS, RDN 
Questions or comments? Contact Carol Schwarz at carol.schwarz@unl.edu 

A survey (n=1,208) was conducted on how people in our state think and feel about their food. Food labels were identified as the major information source by 63.7% of respondents.  

Are you an able food label reader? Do you know the answers to these questions?

    1. Which of these ingredients is present in the largest amount by weight in this food? 
      1. Whole wheat
      2. Brown sugar
      3. Molasses
      4. They are present in equal amounts

        maple flakes cereal with ingredients listed

    2. Which label does NOT have an approved “definition?”  
      1. Label A
      2. Label B

        bouillon and natural food labels

    3. Is a “Best If Used By" date a “safety” date?
      1. Yes
      2. No

        best if used by label

    4. Which food in this photo is “hormone free”?
      1. Meat
      2. Bread
      3. Peas
      4. None of them are “hormone free”

        plate with bread, meat and peas

    5. Which animal is raised with “added” hormones?
      1. Pig
      2. Chicken
      3. Both of them
      4. Neither of them

        pig and chicken
    6. If “bananas-A” are labeled “GMO-Free” and “bananas-B” have no GMO labeling, which is a TRUE statement?
      1. Bananas-B are a GMO food
      2. Neither of them are GMO foods
      3. It’s impossible to tell if bananas-B are a GMO food

        bananas and GMO labeling


  1.  a. Whole wheat. Ingredients are listed by their common or usual name in descending order by weight. For example: If “whole wheat” is listed first, that ingredient is found in the largest amount by weight in the product. The ingredient listed last contributes the least amount by weight.

  2. b. Label B. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not developed a definition for use of the term “natural.”

  3. b. NoA “Best If Used By” date describes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consume.

  4. d. None of them are “hormone free.” Anything that is or has been alive contains hormones, including plants. There is no such thing as “hormone free” meat or animal product. 

  5. d. Neither of them. Added hormones aren’t allowed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in pork and poultry. A claim of “no hormones added” on pork or poultry must be followed by the statement, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”  Be aware, the claim of “no hormones added” may be in much larger letters than the statement saying the use of hormones is prohibited.

  6. b. Neither of them are GMO foods. In today’s market place, you may find foods promoted as “GMO free” or “contains no GMOs.” Before you pay extra for this food, be aware it may not be made with any ingredients that contain GMOs in the first place. In other words, the same type of food without that label may also be free of GMO ingredients. 

Neither banana is a GMO food and never has been! GMO foods currently available in the United States are:

    • Corn (field and sweet)
    • Soybeans
    • Cotton
    • Canola
    • Alfalfa
    • Sugar beets
    • Papaya (Hawaiian)
    • Squash

NOTE: Not all versions of all these foods are genetically engineered. Artic apples will be available in some areas by 2017. Before being placed on the market, genetically modified foods must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Image sources: Maple Flakes (FDA); label examples (Chicken Bouillon photo by Alice Henneman and Natural Label by Vicki Jedlicka); "Best If Used By" image (Alice Henneman); plate with food and bananas images (Pixabay.com); pig and chicken images (Microsoft PowerPoint Icons)  

For more information: View self-paced online slideslow on labeling