Food label: Understanding the basics for reading.

Lack of awareness is very common in India, be it nutrition,non nutrition,human rights,etc. This blog is totally prepared in view of spreading awareness for people who do or do not read nutrition labels.

A study conducted in the year 2017 found that 22.5 % people had awareness of the food label reading but the rest 77.5% were completely unaware of what was that tiny table doing the packet. (1)

Nutrition or food labels are not just present on the packaging for the design purpose or for the sake of it, one should always read the food label in order to know what they are going to introduce their body to.

It is as important as reading the ingredients from a shampoo whether they are sulfate free or not, hence knowing a few key points or tips to look at can help save a lot of time.

As per National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad the companies in India are printing food labels on their packaging but lack of awareness is dissolving the entire purpose.

What is the purpose of food label?

FSSAI is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.The purpose of food labeling is for an individual to make healthier choices of the food they choose to eat.

Food labels show calories, fat content, carbohydrate content, protein content and many other nutrients. In a way by providing nutrient content of food, food labels help in controlling the impact of it on an individuals health.

Nutrition labels also help in avoiding the allergic content that might harm your body, hence reading label can help in various ways.

Points to be kept in mind while reading the food label:

  1. Serving size: It is located on the right side of the label in two different sizes, one would be in a larger quantity say like per 100 grams and one would be in one serving. Always remember to check per serving size of the table so that you are aware of what you are consuming and how much you should consume. If you’re struggling to lose weight and discover your portions are consistently larger than the serving size, that may be the first thing you need to change.
  2. Percent daily value: The best tool on the food label is percent daily value because they accurately tell you whether you are getting right amount of nutrition or not. It is mentioned at the bottom of the label that the values given in the table above are based on a 2000 Kcal diet per day. So, if there is a question in your mind as to how those numbers are present on the table indicating how much protein, sodium,carbohydrates, fats you are consuming always keep in mind that they are with respect to a 2000 kcal diet.
  3. Vitamin and Minerals: The Nutrition Facts label is great for the nutrients it reports, but FSSAI does not require information for all the essential vitamins and minerals. The food you’re eating may contain other vitamins and minerals than those reported on the label. As a general guideline, you’ll find information about vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and any that have been added to fortify the product.
  4. Review the ingredient list: Check for the ingredients if you are intolerant or allergic to something. The ingredients are listed in descending order as per their weight. (2)
  5. Product dates: Manufacturing dates and expiry dates are the only two things that a consumer views before purchasing the product. But there is more added to the list like batch number, a batch number is unique for every product and it is easier for the companies to verify the product.

References:

  1. https://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/a-study-on-the-consumer-awareness-of-food-additives-in-packaged-food-and-their-effects-on-health-in-abha-region-saudi-arabia-9079.html
  2. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/reading-food-labels

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