When you buy food, do you read the labels? Which labels catch your attention?
People have different considerations when selecting and buying a food product. They often choose a product because of its taste. Some consider the price. Others try out new ones because of testimonials while some people are attracted by a product’s packaging. A growing number of health-conscious people are now taking time and carefully considering the nutritional and health values of a product.
A nutrition claim describes the level of a nutrient in a food or dietary supplement and describes the link between a nutrient and the deficiency disease that can result of the nutrient is lacking in the diet. For example, “enriched with vitamin C” and “vitamin C prevents scurvy.” A health or disease claim shows the relationship between a nutrient and other substances in a food and a disease or health-related condition. Nutrition and health labels help customers in selecting which components of food would contribute to a well-balanced diet. They provide information about prevalent public health concerns and help promote a healthy diet. Some food products put additional information about the association between the nutrient they claim to have added or modified in the product and the probability of decreasing the development or preventing the progression of a certain disease. An example of this is the role of calcium in the prevention of osteoporosis, as seen in some milk product packages. These nutrition and health claims have to be approved by the Bureau of Food and Drugs before the manufacturers can put claims on the products.
Various manufacturers nowadays have invested in fortifying, enriching or modifying the content of their products in response to the emerging health and nutrition concerns of consumers. A product that is fortified, enriched or modified are labeled according to the nutrients that were added or modified in the product. Examples of nutrition claims of products are “rich in Vitamin A and C“, “with beta-carotene”, “high calcium“, “low sodium“, “non-fat“, “sugar-free“, “high fiber“, “low calorie“, among others. On the other hand, examples of nutrition support claims include, “protects your heart”, “help prevent osteoporosis”, “help prevent certain cancers”, and others.
A product has to meet certain standards before it can put a nutrition or health claim on its label. For example, when a product claims that it is low calorie, it must have 40 kilocalories or less per serving. When a product claims that it is rich in or a good source of a certain nutrient, it has to contain at least 20% of the recommended intake of that nutrient of a reference person.
The Sangkap Pinoy Seal found in the packaged food products that consumers buy is given to food products fortified with vitamin A, iron and iodine either singly, in combination or all of the three nutrients. Having the Sangkap Pinoy Seal means that at least 1/3 of the recommended nutrient intakes for vitamin A, iron, and iodine was satisfied by the food product.
Other manufacturers have also fortified their products with other nutrients such as calcium, zinc, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B complex. These are optional nutrients for the manufacturers to add in their products and are not required in the Sangkap Pinoy Seal.
However, a fortified or enriched product should not be the only source of nutrients. Eating a variety of foods everyday, the first message of the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), is recommended. No single food can provide all the nutrients required in the proper amount.
Consumers should always read the product labels before buying. Consumers should be wise in choosing food products that taste good and are affordable but also consider the nutritional values one can get from them.