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Consumer Advice : Reading Food labels

Consumer Advice : Reading Food labels
The Writ of Elections was issued on October 1, 2018
August 22
12:45 2014

How many consumers read labels on the food products they buy?

Perhaps, not all consumers do that.

Simply, because people are so used to knowing a product by its name or brand that they hardly see the need to know more about the product such as its nutritional facts, when it was manufactured and where it comes from.

Food labeling is one of the crucial factors to maintain food safety. Food labeling is used to inform consumers of the properties of pre-packaged food. Consumers, therefore, should make efforts to read and understand the information provided on the packages of the food products. Reading these labels will help consumers make healthier food choices.

Food labelling is regulated under the Food Safety Act 2003 and Food Safety Regulation 2009, which is administered and enforced by the Ministry of Health Food Unit together with municipal councils.

It is mandatory in the regulation, for information such as name of food, list of ingredients, net contents or drained weight, name and address of manufacturer or packer or distributor, expiry date, instruction for use, storage and cautions to be on the label.

Nutrient labeling is covered under Regulation 22. This Regulation was recently amended (5th August 2014). Nutrient declaration is mandatory for foods for which nutrition claims are made. There is mandatory requirement now to declare nutrient content on the label. It is mandatory to declare energy, protein, carbohydrate, trans fat, sugar, sodium (salt), saturated fats and unsaturated fats.

The information must be written in the English language or if foreign languages are used, it is mandatory that an English translation is included in the label.

The law also requires that whatever information that is placed on the food label is accurate and not misleading. Non-compliance can result in penalties.

What must appear on the label – Tips?

• name under which the product is sold;

• list of ingredients;

• quantity of certain ingredients;

• net quantity;

• Date of minimum durability (Best before or Use by Dates are the dates after which the manufacturer no longer guarantees the quality of the product. Expiry Dates are the date beyond which traders should no longer sell the products. Consumers should note that they should not buy products if it is being sold after the expiry date;

• Any special storage instructions or conditions of use;

• Name or business name and address of the manufacturer or packager; and

• Place of origin of the food product.

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