Length: 780 words (2.2 double-spaced pages)
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There once was a time where words like "light" and "low-fat" on food packages that had no nutritional meaning. As a result, shoppers were often led to believe they were buying products that were more helpful than they really were. Nutrition panels on labels were also confusing and hard to read. But the Australia New Zealand Authority (ANZFA) changed all that. In March 2001 the ANZFA defined new standardized terms that appear on food labels such as "low-fat", "reduced" and "lean" to control how food manufacturers could put their facts that are relevant to most of our dietary needs. This meaning that food labeling helps consumers to make the best possible food choice.
What is a food label? What is on a food label?
A food label is a source of advertising a food product. Manufacturers try their best to make their product food label as attractive as possible, by using bright colours, bold text, food claims, and a lot of information. Too much information on a food label might have caused a lot of painful headaches for consumers; but it's all worth it, due to many health and nutrition problems. By law, manufacturers must abide by the standard code terms of what is put on their food label. By this, a food label must have no false claims or information, be in English and legible and easy to see. Also must contain a barcode, name of food, list of ingredients in descending order of weight, net weight, any additives in the food, country of origin, use of imported ingredients, name and address of manufacturer, date marking and nutrition panel if any claims are made.
Food and Health claims
Food claims seemed to be marketing for a manufacturer, but now it is a warning to a consumer's health. Some examples of claims are "low-fat", "lite", "light", "reduced", "%fat free" and "No added". The food industry is very keen to make health claims on food labels, and the ANZFA has considered lifting the ban that stops them from doing so. Many disagreeable claims are made regarding the ability of nutrients to prevent certain diseases. Food manufacturers are now only allowed to make the following well-established claims concerning relationships between diet and disease:
ƒÞ Calcium and a reduced risk of osteoporosis.
ƒÞ Fat and increased risk of cancer.
ƒÞ Saturated fat and cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.
ƒÞ Fiber and a reduced risk of cancer.
ƒÞ Fruit, vegetables and grain products that contain fiber and a reduced risk of heart disease.
ƒÞ Sodium (salt) and an increased risk of high blood pressure.
ƒÞ Fruits and vegetables and a reduced risk of cancer.
ƒÞ Soy protein and a reduced risk of heart disease
Understanding what's on a food label
Here is an example of a food label that has a lot of claims. (Refer to Appendix 1).
1. Date marking is a guide to the amount of time for which the unopened packaged food, when stored correctly, should keep its quality and wholesomeness. Date marking is usually in the form of 'use by', 'best before' or 'packed on'.
2. Name is what the food product is. Some foods have a name that¡¦s prescribed by law (such as margarine, ice-cream, bread and pecans)
3. Name and Address of the retailer, manufacturer, packer or importer.
4. Country of origin identifies the country in which the food was made or grown.
5. The ingredient list (not required as pecans are naturally grown) is your guide to whats in the food. Ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight, except water.
6. Net Weight this tells you the amount of food in the package. It's expressed in grams (g) for solid or semi foods, and millilitres (ml) for liquids.
7. The Nutrition panel tells you the amount of the different nutrients in the food. If a product has a nutrition claim on it, it has to have a panel, which has to be laid out as illustrated on the back of the pecan label.
8. Nutrient Claim There is a lot of legal claims on the pecan label such as "not genetically modified", Mono-unsaturated", "no insecticide", "no cholesterol", "unsalted", "no sugar", "free recipes" and "natural".
With all the information that I have collected about food labeling, all of them had negative thoughts about the legal standard terms. I believe that the newly resolved problem with the food labeling standard terms need to get more recognition because in the future consumers wont have to fight any more for information to help them choose the foods they want and eat in a healthy diet. Food labels contain vital information, not misleading or untrue.