Friday, October 23, 2009


Consumers are increasingly being confused by some of the information contained in the labels of food packets though industry is trying to be more and more transparent declaring even the percentage of each ingredient that go in making their products. Attempts are continuing to simplify the mechanism of making the label more and more consumer friendly though no single system, considered satisfactory, has yet been established. Neither the 'Smart Choice' System of USA nor the 'Traffic Light' System in UK is considered perfect though it is a good beginning.

Here is how the Traffic Light system works for guiding the consumer."If we want to eat a healthy diet, one of the key things we should be doing is trying to cut down on fat (especially saturated fat), salt and added sugars. Food products with traffic light labels on the front of the pack show you at-a-glance if the food you are thinking about buying has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, helping you get a better balance.In addition to traffic light colors you will also see the number of grams of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt in what the manufacturer or retailer suggests as a 'serving' of the food".

Traffic lights are basically three in number and each label indicates percentage of red, amber and green components reflecting the relative nutrient and health values. If red is predominant, it may be rich in calories, fat, sugar or salt and caution needs to be exercised in selecting such foods too frequently. Low values or absence of red on the label is supposed to be safe for regular consumption. It is not an "absolute" system but a comparative indication to choose from a plethora of similar products on the shelves.


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