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What are portions and servings?

The words 'portion' and 'serving' mean different things to different people. This often results in a great deal of confusion, particularly for you, when you are deciding how much you can eat of a particular food.

Current definitions of 'portions' and 'servings'

Dictionary definition

Portion: part, share or helping

Serving: single portion/amount of food taken at a meal

Food Industry definition

Portion: "A portion is either a division of a package as a whole, e.g. half a quiche, a sausage, a sixth of a cake, two biscuit, or a complete package"

Serving: "A quantified serving is a measured amount, which may or may not be a division of the whole package, e.g. x oz of cheese, a …. Spoon (yml) of mayonnaise"

Health Professionals

A serving is an amount of food used together with the number of those servings that should provide the daily total of food from each of the food groups.

Key points to remember about portion sizes on food labels

  • Food portions described on food labels do not describe the amount of food required to provide a healthy balanced diet
  • Portion sizes described on food labels do not necessarily describe a healthy portion of food and that this may cause you to eat larger amounts of food (and calories) than you need.
  • The information on a food label describes the specific amount of that food that has been defined as a portion by the food manufacturer.

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