Nutrition food labeling and its utility towards making health food choices – Kashmir Reader

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Nutrition labels describe the nutrient content of a food and are intended to guide the consumer in food selection.Since December 2016 it’s been made mandatory for the majority of pre-packed foods to display a nutrition declaration for the product. This is usually referred to as back of pack nutrition labeling.Under EU regulations, food labels should give you information about the food inside the packaging, shelf life and storage instructions to help you make informed decisions about the foods you buy.When it comes to reading food labels, the most important are :
· Serving size. Check to see how many servings the package contains.
Calories. How many calories are in one serving? …
Carbohydrates. The total carbohydrates listed on a food label include sugar, complex carbohydrate and fiber, which can all affect blood glucose. …
Total fat. …
Saturated fat. …
Trans fat. …
Cholesterol. …
Sodium.
Allergen labelling
Food producers must emphasise allergens within the ingredients listed on the label of pre-packed foods.To do this, they might; use bold, underline or italics, change the colour of the text. There are 14 specified substances or products causing allergies or intolerances which must be highlighted:
· cereals containing gluten
· crustaceans – including prawns, crabs, lobster and crayfish
· peanuts
· eggs
· fish
· nuts – including brazil nuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews and macadamia nuts
· soybeans
· milk
· celery and celeriac
· mustard
· sesame
· lupin
· molluscs – including clams, mussels, whelks, oysters and squid
· sulphur dioxide/sulphites (a preservative found in some dried fruit) – but only when present in concentrations over 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/l
Short statements like “Contains nuts” or “Contains shellfish” are no longer allowed on food labels unless the product isn’t required to display an ingredient list. These regulations also state that allergen information must be available for all food sold loose or non-pre-packed. The Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling play an important role to provide guidance to member countries when they want to develop or update their national regulations and to encourage harmonization of national standards with international standards. These Guidelines are based on the principle that no food should be described or presented in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive. The Guidelines include provisions for voluntary nutrient declaration, calculation and presentation of nutrient information. Food labels are included on all food products except for very small packets and fresh fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, nuts, fresh lean meat and fish and local bakery and confectionery products. Nutrition labels are often displayed as a panel on the back side of the package and tells you what nutrients the food contains and how much of each nutrient. Food and Drug Administration proposed the mandatory listing of calories,fat,saturated fat,cholesterol,fibre,protein,vitamin A and C,calcium and iron present in 100gor 100ml of the food.. Food labels carry useful information to help in making good choices about the food.One of the main drivers for nutrition labelling is the increased prevalence of diet-related non-communicable diseases. These labels can be effective instruments in helping consumers to make healthful food choices. The Codex Alimentarius guidelines recommend the following types of nutrition labelling: Nutrient Declaration, Nutrient Reference Values, Quantitative declaration on ingredients (QUID), Nutrition Claims and Health Claims.The Codex Alimentarius provides guidance on two key date marks “Best before date” or “Best quality before date” and ”Use-by-Date” or “Expiration date”. One of the main aims of a labelling policy is to prevent food sellers from deliberately misleading consumers through false representations on a package. At the top of Nutrition facts label, you will find the total number of serving in the product and the food or drink serving size. The nutritional information panel shows the quantity of various nutrients a food contains per serve.
1. Nutrition label can help in choosing between products and keep check on the amount of foods that you are eating as they may contain energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, salt and sugar and dietary fibre and storage conditions.
2. Food labels are of different types-product dates, ingredient list, nutrition facts label and daily value
3. Nutritional content and healthiness of food can be judged when manufacture advises the food will either be unsafe to eat or not as good to eat and read Use by and best before dates and packed on.
4. Many foods contain food additives labelled on the products and food allergy information.
5. Nutritional claims on food packaging and food advertising could be double checked for nutritional and health claims on the product.
6. Nutrition food labelling is an important tool between consumers and food manufactures. Nutrition information provided on labels should be truthful and not mislead consumers.

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