Did you know that there are major discrepancies in the meaning of certain key words placed on food labels? For example take the following key words commonly found on food packaging, ‘flavour’ and ‘flavoured’, ‘juice’ and ‘juice drink’ and ‘light’ and ‘diet’. Although these words appear to be the same, they in fact contain very different meanings.
Did you know that there are major discrepancies in the meaning of certain key words placed on food labels? For example take the following key words commonly found on food packaging, ‘flavour’ and ‘flavoured’, ‘juice’ and ‘juice drink’ and ‘light’ and ‘diet’. Although these words appear to be the same, they in fact contain very different meanings. Food companies are currently engaged in the process of misleading consumers through the use of deceptive ‘buzz words’ on food packaging. The Institute of Health Science’s recently did a study on this topic http://www.instituteofhealthsciences.com/news/
It is hard to deny that some level of deception exists within the food industry. Marketers love to sell and promote the health benefits associated their food. But do we really know how to decipher this cryptic lingo used by marketers? Take low-fat products as an example. Some yogurt products are sold as low-fat because they have less that 3 grams of fat per 10o grams. However many of these products are loaded with sugar to compensate for the lack of taste. WHICH?, a UK consumer publication put the spotlight on ‘creative labelling’ this month. They ran an expose on Mark’s and Spencer’s ‘Lochmuir Salmon’ and Tesco’s ‘Willow Farm Chicken’. They found that according to the atlas these places do not exist. There are other surprises too in the form of ‘Covent Garden’ wild mushroom soup, which contains only 0.6% of wild mushrooms. Also Quakers Oat So Simple Raspberry and Pomegranate was found to contain no source of fruit. The WHICH? Survey claimed that supermarkets bombard consumers with labels using creative language such as ‘wholesome’ ‘homemade’ ‘hearty’ ‘farmhouse’ ‘traditional’, and so on. So what is the true meaning of these colourful words? The truth of the matter is that these words are in fact meaningless.
Pressure is now growing for greater honesty and transparency from this industry built on suggestive terms. What you as a customer consume should be exactly what it says on the tin. This can be achieved with a new and easy labelling system that is honest and consumer orientated. As a result of this label deception new legislation was introduced last year which ruled food information should not be misleading in any form. So strawberry juice for example which contains 90% apple juice will now become ‘apple and strawberry juice’. Nessa Childers an MEP who has lobbied for a traffic light labelling system, a red, orange and green colour code to indicate levels of fat, sugar, saturates and salt in products states ‘we should know exactly what we are eating, how healthy or unhealthy it is and where the main ingredients come from’.
Although these food labelling laws came into effect in 2011, there is a transition period of three to five years put in place to allow companies time to update their labels and marketing practises.