Why Nobody reads food labels ?
Why Nobody reads food labels ?
Someone wisely quoted, “ The most important thing to remember about the food labels is that you should stop having foods that has labels.”
Modern lifestyle has presented us with umpteen food choices wrapped in the form of convenience. They capitalise on our taste buds and with addictive flavours ensure that they permanently become a part of our food indulgence.
The innovation around the ready to eat food industry is fast and exciting, sometimes it enters the grey area of the usage of the ingredients that might not be good also. The organic and natural versions of the common packed foods also have a very similar issues. The difference between artificial and natural flavours is not that big as compared to their similarities.
Although there has been constant attempt by the food regulators across the world especially FDA in the west and our own FSSAI have often come with standards or lets say guidelines for the food business operators to transparently disclose what goes into the preparation of these food items. Hence most of the packed food in our supermarket shelves contain the ingredient list. Here the principle seems to be not avoid harmful ingredients after proper research but as far as its disclosed and its not bought by the consumers everyone is safe. Hence food businesses come with fancy names like 100% natural, Keto Approved etc to work around this requirement.
Now the real problem is, are people reading them and if yes, what is the kind of impact that has on their purchasing decision.
It is normally seen that our purchases for the day today food items is mainly driven by the advertisements. Which brand of oats, Biscuits, Oil we buy is mostly based on the Ads seen on the media or maybe based on the recommendation of the family / friends who in turn might have bought based on the media Ads.
Even though with the advancement in knowledge regarding nutrition, people spending time in the aisles of the super markets purveying through different food options trying to make sense of what they contain , is very limited. In Urban centres that kind of awareness is fast spreading but in the larger market of semi urban, and rural these kind of purchasing behaviour is non existent.
Another important reason for not checking the labels is the absence of knowledge on the significance of the ingredients. The recommendations from the fssai and even the recommended dietary guidelines give the average percentage of the contents based on the health standards. But the impact of not meeting these standards or guidelines is not very clear. It is being found that even the famous brands have higher salt and sugar contents in their popular food products.
Fast food and junk snacks addiction is as bigger as that of smoking today. With the rising number of lifestyle diseases, it is imperative that the warning should be stronger both in terms of the preparation standards and also the packaging standardsand not just with the guidelines that are toothless.
Having a clearly defined labelling rules with the impact of the ingredients will go a long way in helping the consumers to understand and analyse the food items before they purchase.The new draft guidelines to mark the labels as fo high calorie, fat content etc , if implemented in a proper way can help consumers to make informed choices and can ensure that people finally start reading the labels.