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Is the food industry putting our health at risk?

Posted in Personal Health 13 Feb, 2013

While at the local supermarket there are usually two key factors which influence our decision when buying food. They include the price of foods and the nutritional information displayed on the packaging. Thus for those who are watching the calories and subsequently using the nutritional information on foods as a guide to follow a healthy lifestyle, it will be especially worrying to hear that some manufacturers may not be entirely truthful on their packaging.

According to The Daily Mail, Mark Isark, a leading consumer activist who runs the consumer barcode app website CanlEtlt, has claimed that shoppers are unsuspectingly buying foods high in sugar, salt and fat because manufacturers are employing devious tactics such as failing to show the nutritional value on some food packages as a means to hide the ‘true’ nutritional value on big brand foods. He claims that manufacturers use a number of tricks and devices to deceive consumers. They include:

Failing to show the calorie content

According to Mark Isark, many big brand foods fail to even list the nutritional information on their packages rather opting to following the ‘What they don’t know won’t hurt them’ method, to prevent customers from turning away. Such a tactic does little to help the consumer watch and control their eating habits.

Labelling salt as sodium

Over the last few years, awareness about the hidden dangers of consuming high levels of salt in your diet have been bought to the forefront of the public domain, thus the national recommendation of 6g as a daily salt limit. A common trick by manufacturers is to avoid displaying the true salt content in their products by labelling it as sodium instead.

Disguising sugars as carbohydrates

Many drinks are hiding their sugar content in carbohydrates, but are still clearly showing other nutritional values that noticeably are regarded as healthy, such as the energy and salt values. Such strategies to hide the nutritional value regarded the most important to consumers such as the sugar content are simply deceptive and show that manufacturers have little regard for the health of consumers.

Hidden labels

Clearly employed to deter you from trying to find out a brand’s nutritional value or calorie content, this method involves manufacturers using doubling labelling. This type of labelling is when the consumer is required to peel back the label at the forefront of the package in order to see the product’s nutritional value.

Misrepresenting food labels

It is worrying that, despite the government’s attempts at prohibiting the food industry by introducing new laws to limit the amount of salt and sugar and saturated food content in foods, revelations such as this have emerged. Hiding the nutritional values of food, or using methods to falsely misrepresent the ‘health value’ of some food, is irresponsible and I agree with Mark Isark that with so many people suffering with obesity-related health conditions, something must be done.

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