Saturday August 24, 2019

Labels on Packaged Foods Promote Healthier Choices, Shows Study

Further, the team found no consistent differential effects by label placements (menu, package, other point-of-purchase), label types (e.g. nutrient content), suggesting information may be more relevant to consumers

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Packaged Foods Could Be Harmful, consumer
Food labels promote healthier choices: Study. Pixabay

Labels on packaged foods such as nutrition facts, “low-sodium” or “fat-free” as well as calorie counts on restaurant menus, have to some extent encouraged healthier eating choices, say researchers.

The research, led by Tufts University researchers, found that labelling reduced consumers’ intake of calories by 6.6 per cent, total fat by 10.6 per cent and other unhealthy food options by 13 per cent.

Labelling also increased consumers’ vegetable consumption by 13.5 per cent.

In contrast, labelling did not significantly impact consumer intakes of other targets such as total carbohydrate, total protein, saturated fat, fruits, whole grains or other healthy options, the researchers rued.

“Many old and new food policies focus on labelling, whether on food packages or restaurant menus. Remarkably, the effectiveness of these labels, whether for changing consumers’ choices or industry product formulations, has not been clear,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean at Tufts’s Friedman School.

“Our findings provide new evidence on what might work, and what might not, when implementing food labelling,” he added.

Food Waste,
A worker removes expired food in a local supermarket in Brussels on Jan. 16, 2017. The European Court of Auditors chided the European Union’s executive branch in a report, “Combating Food Waste,” that decries the bloc’s lack of effort in reducing the food waste, estimating the EU wastes 88 million tons of food per year. VOA

For the research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the team reviewed 60 interventional studies — conducted in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

When industry responses were evaluated, the team found that labelling led to reductions of both trans-fat and sodium in packaged foods by 64.3 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively.

However, no significant effects of labelling were identified for industry formulations of total calories, saturated fat, dietary fibre, other healthy components (e.g., protein and unsaturated fat), or other unhealthy components (e.g., total fat, sugar, and dietary cholesterol), although relatively few studies evaluated these endpoints.

Also Read- A City in Northern China Bans Christmas Sales

“For industry responses, it’s interesting that the two altered components-trans-fat and sodium-are additives,” said Mozaffarian.

“This suggests that industry may be more readily able to alter additives, as opposed to naturally occurring ingredients such as fat or calories, in response to labelling. It will be interesting to see whether this will translate to added sugar,” he noted.

Further, the team found no consistent differential effects by label placements (menu, package, other point-of-purchase), label types (e.g. nutrient content), suggesting information may be more relevant to consumers. (IANS)

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Foods Labelled ‘Gluten-free’ Not Trustworthy, Says Study

Lebwohl suspects gluten-free foods are inadvertently contaminated and the solution may be better education for food preparers

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Packaged Foods Could Be Harmful, consumer
Food labels promote healthier choices: Study. Pixabay

Suffering from coeliac disease and want to avoid gluten? Then restaurants should be the last place you should visit as most foods labelled ‘gluten-free’ have gluten, suggest researchers.

The study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, showed more than half of the gluten-free pizza and pasta dishes in restaurants had gluten and about one-third of supposedly gluten-free foods had detectable gluten.

Coeliac disease is an ailment in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food.

Diners avoiding gluten have to rely on menu labels, word of mouth and restaurant workers’ advice.

soy milk
A photo shows the ingredients label for soy milk at a grocery store in New York, Feb. 16, 2017. The dairy industry says terms like “soy milk” violate the federal standard for milk, but even government agencies have internally clashed over the proper term.VOA

“Patients have long suspected that gluten contamination in restaurant foods is a frequent occurrence, and these results support that. Our findings suggest pizza, pasta and foods served at dinner were more likely to have a problem,” said Benjamin Lebwohl, Assistant Professor at the Columbia Mailman School in the US.

For the study, 5,624 dishes were analysed using Nima Gluten Sensor and 32 per cent of the tests revealed detectable gluten in dishes supposed to be gluten-free.

Also Read- Adding Chokeberries to Porridge May Help Boost Health

Gluten-free pasta samples were positive in 51 per cent tests and gluten-free pizza in 53 per cent cases. In addition, gluten was detected in 27 per cent of breakfasts, 29 per cent of lunches, and 34 per cent of dinners.

Lebwohl suspects gluten-free foods are inadvertently contaminated and the solution may be better education for food preparers. (IANS)