WHY IT’S SO HARD TO MAKE SENSE OF FOOD LABELLING
Understanding food labelling is crucial for making informed food choices, but many consumers find it challenging to decode the complicated language, nutritional values, and other information on food packages. This article explores why it is so difficult to make sense of food labelling and provides some tips to simplify the process.
Why is food labelling so complicated?
One of the reasons why food labelling is so complicated is that it is highly regulated and varies from one region to another. Food manufacturers need to comply with different international, national, and local laws and guidelines when labelling their products. Moreover, different products have different labelling requirements based on their ingredients, nutritional values, and other factors. For example, some products need to display information regarding allergens, whereas others may need to indicate their country of origin or Halal or Kosher certification.
Another reason why food labelling is complicated is the use of technical terms and jargon that many consumers may not understand. For example, terms like “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “sodium benzoate” may mean little to the average consumer and can make it challenging for them to evaluate the healthfulness of the product. Additionally, the same nutrient can be expressed in different ways, making it difficult for consumers to compare products. For instance, one product may list saturated fat as a percentage of the daily value, whereas another may show it in grams or calories.
Tips to make sense of food labelling
Despite the challenges, consumers can make sense of food labelling by following some simple tips:
1. Look for simple labels: Choose products with labels that contain only basic information, such as the name of the product, ingredients, and nutritional values. Avoid products with complicated claims or marketing jargon.
2. Focus on serving sizes: Pay attention to the serving sizes listed on the label, as they can significantly impact the nutritional values and calorie counts. If the serving size is too small, you may end up consuming more calories or nutrients than you intend to.
3. Learn the abbreviations: Familiarize yourself with common abbreviations used on food labels, such as RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), DV (Daily Value), mg (milligrams), and g (grams). Knowing these abbreviations can help you better understand the label and make informed decisions.
4. Check the ingredients: Look for products with simple, whole ingredients and avoid those with artificial ingredients, added sugars, or high levels of sodium or saturated fat.
5. Use online resources: Online tools and databases, such as the USDA Food Composition Database, can help you understand the nutritional values of different products and compare them.
In conclusion, understanding food labelling is essential for making informed food choices, but it is also challenging. By following these simple tips and taking the time to learn about different ingredients and abbreviations, consumers can navigate food labelling and make healthier choices.
Keywords: food labelling, nutritional values, regulated, technical terms, serving sizes, whole ingredients, online resources.