Food Labels – What Does % Daily Value Mean?

Updated in July 2015 by the Manitoba Association of Home Economists

Many people look to food labels to find nutrition information. Shoppers can use the “Nutrition Facts” panel and the % Daily Value on packaged foods to make more informed choices about the foods they buy, and to compare similar products.

The Nutrition Facts panel provides nutrition information based on the serving size listed on the panel. The % Daily Value is shown for the thirteen core nutrients. The % Daily Values are based on general Canadian guidelines for healthy eating and can apply to most people. Shoppers can use the % Daily Value as a quick and easy tool to see if there is a little or a lot of a nutrient in that food. For example, the % Daily Value can be used to choose products that have a higher amount of a specific nutrient such as calcium, iron and fibre.

Some packages may claim the food is a higher source of some nutrients. Manufacturers can make this claim if:

  • There is 15 % Daily Value or more of calcium, vitamin A, iron or fibre (for the stated serving size of food)
  • There is 30 % Daily Value or more of vitamin C (for the stated serving size of food)

Shoppers can also use the % Daily Value to choose products that have a lower amount of nutrients that they may want to decrease. These include saturated fat, trans fat or sodium. Manufacturers can make the claim that the product is low in these nutrients if:

  • There is 5 % Daily Value or less of fat, sodium or cholesterol (for the stated serving size of food)
  • There is 10 % Daily Value or less of saturated or trans fat (for the stated serving size of food)

Follow Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide to help make healthy food choices. Eating well can reduce the risk of chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Using the % Daily Value can help make informed food choices for healthy eating.


Originator: Shari Tremaine, Five Hills Health Region

Editing buddy: Jenny Okroj, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region


Health Canada, “Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition Labelling”,, 2003.

Health Canada, “Interactive Nutrition Label and Quiz”,, 2006.