Food Labelling

The awareness of nutrition and of nutrients on dietary related diseases has increased rapidly. Changes have been taking place since the end of Second World War. There has been a considerable increase in the consumption of fat, sugars and sweeteners and decrease in nutrition, which is contributed by cereals and grain products. Though the intake of protein has not changed as much, the main source for protein is now meat rather than grain products. Owing to all these changes the need for accurate and standard of nutrition labeling has also grown.

Why Labelling is done?

As of now, the market shows that nutrition “sells” to any consumer. This realization in the consumer has forced him to buy anything that is promoted as ‘nutritional’. And the same realization has made the marketers compete against one another to show off that their products have more nutrients than the others. The result is that more popular nutrients like sodium, salts, fats, general foods containing protein and carbohydrates are highlighted on the labels of the food products. Also every other product reports that its usage will decrease cholesterol in product users’ bodies.

Labelling – Guding or Misguiding

But many consumers complain that the labels on the food products do not provide correct information and, in most cases, the information that they desire. Important dietary nutrients such as fiber, varied vitamins and other minerals are not mentioned in detail. Consumer need help to make the dietary adjustments recommended by health experts. They not only need information, but also a choice to pick up the products that are more suitable to their respective requirements.

What is done till now?

Developed countries with USA at the forefront have set up committees to help consumers on such issues. The idea that the list of ingredients should be made available to the consumer before the purchase is the key. The usage of terminology such as "low-calorie" or "fiber rich" is regulated. But the percentage of the ingredients is ordered to be given at the time of purchase.

Some of the comments made by such committees say that on a product label:

  • Food product manufacturers should provide food labels and should also include all the ingredients and their respective percentages in the final product.
  • Restaurateurs should make nutrient information of the contents of their menu available to the consumers.

What needs to be done?

Nutrition information on labels is a way to provide information and help behavior modification. Though information campaigns to promote health are run with growing number of interested people, this doesn’t mean that they are ready to make choices that are good in the long run.

Dietitians, medical practitioners and doctors are the health professionals most involved in educating consumers. Hence it will be up to them to encourage and educate their patients about useful ingredients that make up a balanced diet or substitute a balanced diet. It is up to the best interests of their own patients that advisors inform about the dietary problems that evolve gradually.

Also individuals who are aware of taking care of their diet must make sure that their awareness is not restricted to few books or resources that provide information on diet. Keeping oneself updated about the developments in dietary studies not only helps oneself, but also helps their friends or family members.