We are now encouraged to look very carefully at the labels on our food. They can tell us so much, what should we be most aware of?
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) regulates product labelling and their role involves ensuring that packaging does not mislead or misdescribe the foods that they contain. A description of food refers to the information given, such as the name, ingredients, origins and any processes that it may have undergone. Product labelling is a great way to find details about foods such as nutritional information or the use by date.
Governed by laws to prevent companies from writing misleading or inaccurate information on packages, product labelling is highly important for consumers. There are clear guidelines that dictate what can be displayed on labels. Manufacturers must put accurate information on packaging and this shows you what you are buying and eating.
There are various criteria that must be considered when companies use product labelling on foods. Any processes that the food may have undergone, such as being smoked or dried must be clearly stated on the packaging. Some labels may make claims which can be unsubstantiated. These may or may not be regulated by law so you must be careful not to place too much trust on claims such as 'natural, 'fresh or 'pure as these words may be misleading.
Some may state that there may be traces of nuts within the food. This is often used as a precautionary measure on the part of the manufacturer. The types of foods that this warning appears on are varied and realistically if it isnt possible to be absolutely confident that the food is free of nuts, the manufacturer must place this warning on packages to avoid legal issues.
It is also not unusual for the image or illustration of the food to be evident in order to represent to the consumer the appearance of the food. GM labelling offers consumers the choice they may want when buying Genetically Modified (GM) foods. Organic foods are also distinguishable using labels. Although, according to the FSA, these types of food are not significantly different from foods produced conventionally, in terms of food safety and nutrition, it is still important to provide people with a choice when buying foods and label the foods accordingly. It is also essential for people who are eating healthily as part of a diet plan or those who may be suffering from diseases that are affected by foods such as diabetes. People with high blood pressure may need to find out the salt or sodium content to ensure they arent consuming too much.