The Must La­bel

Consumer Voice - - Food & Stuff -

Con­sumers can use food la­bels to make in­formed choices about the food they pur­chase. Among other things, the la­bel tells you what nutri­tion to ex­pect in your food, by what date you must con­sume it, and so on, all of which you may need to work out how var­i­ous foods fit into your over­all di­ets. It also lets you com­pare the nutri­tion value of sim­i­lar foods. Here, we tell our read­ers about the gen­eral and manda­tory re­quire­ments re­gard­ing in­for­ma­tion that should be men­tioned on the pack­ag­ing. While these re­quire­ments are meant for man­u­fac­tur­ers and mar­keters, it be­comes es­sen­tial for con­sumers to know the same – they can then be sure that their food brands are meet­ing the norms.

Are­cent sur­vey by Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity Depart­ment of Agri­cul­tural Eco­nom­ics finds that over 80 per cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port ‘manda­tory la­bels on foods con­tain­ing DNA’, about the same num­ber who sup­port manda­tory la­belling of GMO foods ‘pro­duced with ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing’. In­dia is not car­ry­ing such sur­veys yet. There is more to be done at fun­da­men­tal lev­els as ba­sic la­belling—bare min­i­mal re­quire­ments—are hardly be­ing fol­lowed by all. Among other ob­sta­cles and loop­holes in the sys­tem, one sig­nif­i­cant el­e­ment that un­fair busi­nesses take ad­van­tage of is un­aware­ness lev­els as well as the take-it-lightly at­ti­tude of con­sumers, who rarely bother to see be­yond the price, and some­times the date, on a la­bel be­fore pay­ing for a prod­uct.

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