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The e Mark: e numbers and e colours

Different foods give us different amounts of energy. The e Mark is a food label to help you to choose foods based on how much energy you need.

The e Mark

The e Mark is a label for all foods that is owned by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. It is designed to help people choose foods that suit their individual energy needs.

Get information sheet: Guiding food choices

Serving size

Before a food can be given an e Mark, the size of an appropriate serving is determined by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. Once this has been done the food is given a number (between 1 and 5) and a colour (blue, green, or yellow).

The e Mark number

The e Mark number tells you the energy density, or how much energy there is in the food. This is measured in kilojoules per gram.

A low number represents low energy density (very little energy in the food). A high number means that the food will give you lots of energy.

Example of foods with different energy densities are:

 e Mark number

 Energy density

 Examples of food

 1 e

Very low

Fruits, non-starchy vegetables, some soups

 2 e


Starchy fruits and vegetables, grains, some cereals, meats, fish, eggs

 3 e


Some meats, bread, some cheeses, spreads

 4 e


Pizza, some cakes, crackers

 5 e

Very high

Butter, vegetable oils, milk, chocolate, some biscuits, nuts, dried fruits

These numbers can be used to choose how much of a food to eat. 1 e and 2 e foods can be eaten in large servings, 3 e foods eaten in medium servings, 4 e foods eaten in small servings, and 5 e food should only be eaten occasionally, in small servings.

The e Mark colour

The e Mark also has 3 colours: blue, green, and yellow. The colours tell you how quickly the energy will released from the food into your body. The colours are calculated from the glycaemic load of a food.

Glycaemic load is a measure of how quickly glucose is released into your blood after a particular food has been eaten. Glucose is the sugar molecule that our cells can most quickly and efficiently convert into energy.

Blue is for foods that release their energy slowly. These foods will sustain you, and make you feel fuller for longer. Examples include fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products.

Green is for foods that return energy levels to ideal once our bodies have used up a lot of energy. They restore our energy. Examples include wholegrain breads and cereals.

Yellow is for foods which release energy rapidly. They are good if you need a lot of energy quickly. Examples include muesli bars and energy drinks.

Want to try using the e Mark now? Have a go at choosing the right food for your after school activity.


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