Sep 6, 2018

Differences With Nutrition Labels

In general, I like to know what the nutritional value of my food is. This brings me to always look at the label. Back home in the United States it is a very simple task. Everything is put in a neat, tidy box on the package. Plus, the same nutrition information is always listed. Once I came to Japan, I looked at the back of my first package and to my surprise, there was no box...

Here is an example from my boyfriends chocolate flakes:

Differences With Nutrition Labels photo

Differences With Nutrition Labels photo

I actually do not like these! No idea why he eats these... Haha!

So just in case you can't read Japanese there are five categories:

エネルギー  Calories

たんぱく質 Protein

脂質 Fat

炭水化物 Carbohydrates

ナトリウム Sodium

The problem for me is that it shows no division between the types of carbohydrates or fats. The amount of sugar used is also conveniently not written. I actually didn't even realize the sugar part until my boyfriend and I were having a discussion about why juice is not healthy. I asked him how much sugar was in his juice and just stared at me in confusion

For comparison here is an American nutrition chart:

Differences With Nutrition Labels photo

Some of my boyfriends hot chocolate that I sent him last Christmas... 

The American version is extremely more detailed. I mentioned the differences that were important for me above, but some more of them include the Japanese version's lack of information about: calories from fat, cholesterol, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. 

For many people, I guess the lack of information wouldn't matter, but it does pose a barrier for people who are looking to get certain amount of nutrients or avoid certain things. Personally, I think the lack of more information creates a problem for people trying to lose weight in a healthy way. (ME!) In order to keep myself full, I like to pay attention to fiber and to keep myself healthy, I like to pay attention to calcium and vitamins. The way I try to get around this is by eating the fruits and veggies that I know contain the things that my body needs. 

The lack of information also shows a reflection on the Japanese perception of health and weight. When Japanese people try to lose weight, or at least the people I know, they tend to only pay attention to fat or calories. This happens in the West too, but I feel like it happens even more in Japan. 

How do you feel about the nutrition information on food packages in Japan?



Teacher, Traveler, Dancer -
Currently living in Gifu -
I love Japan, dance, cats, food, and fashion!


  • edthethe

    on Sep 7

    I despise how some packages don't even provide ingredients! There is ample room, they just leave it out. I have a friend with a dairy allergy and could never send things that were delicious because we just weren't certain they did have butter or something.

  • ReishiiTravels

    on Sep 8

    @edthethe That's awful!! I just can't get over the fact that they don't list it!!!!