Changing Food Labels and Impacts on the Consumer and Business
When walking through the aisles in the grocery store, you often get the overwhelming bombardment of health claims and advertisements to purchase food. Several times you feel confused and inundated with all the nutritional information that is found on product labels. The Canadian Government is launching a new criteria for foodservice companies to try and make the food label more legible, change nutritional information, and emphasize important nutritional facts. This idea was first launched in 2014 by the Canadian Government, and will continue to take time to implement the new labels. Consumers will not see drastic changes to the labels, and it will take some time for the labels to become mainstream.
Changes to Food Labels
Currently when you read a food label, some can be difficult to read, are not comprehensive, do not contain important ingredient listing information, and % Daily Value can be a difficult concept to understand. Many people and parents are concerned with the amount of sugar that is found within their grocery products. A new line will be added that will combine all sugars together under one category. Also, an added sugars line will be added to ensure that consumers know how much total sugar is found within each product. They will be removing the vitamin A and C category and adding vitamin D and potassium to all labels because most Canadians do not get enough of these nutrients. As well, some of the font sizes and boldness of important information will be increased in order for people to be able to read the information found on the label.
Current Changes that Need Alterations
For some people, they may feel that this change is not drastic enough and that there should be an increased amount of changes within the label. From an aesthetic perspective changing all labels to ensure that they are legible is extremely important. A person with perfect vision should be able to read the label with ease, but an older person with cataracts and other vision problems may not be able to do so. There should be a standard colour and size that all labels should follow. This will ensure that everyone will be able to read the information found on the label. From a nutritional standpoint, the changes that are occurring may not be considered enough. With a growing number of individuals under strict diet restrictions and the increase of allergens found today, should we not be more specific with the accuracy of the food label. Some examples of these may be when food labels use a generic name such as spices or natural flavours, what does this actually entail? For ease and comfort, customers should know what ingredients are found in the products that they are buying.
Health Claims on Products
Health claims tend to be an important part of the marketing a food product. Currently in Canada there are several guidelines that need to be met to be able to make those certain health claims. The problem with a lot of these health claims is that people feel that because they are consuming a product that is reduced fat that it is better for them. Education on proper label reading is essential in understanding the full nutrition of the product.
Companies Spending Money on Change
Every change to food labels brings a large cost to the company. When companies are already spending an exorbitant amount of money on changing labels, we should make a drastic move towards what should be placed on food labels instead of taking tiny steps at correcting the problems that are found currently on them. When there are constant little changes to the labels, this is a growing cost for companies and consumers need to pay more potentially now for the product to offset the costs from the companies. If they make more drastic changes to the food labels, this allows companies to adhere to the specific government guidelines outlined, consumers are happier because they feel that they are receiving adequate information, and the food is safer for people who have allergies and other diet restrictions, and the cost for changes is lowered. As well because we buy and sell a tremendous amount of products with the United States should both countries use the same label system? This may make us more competitive in the global market.
Genetically Modified Food
Currently, there is a large debate whether we should be consuming genetically modified foods. We are not trying to debate whether genetically modified foods are healthy for an individual or not, but should consumers know if what they are consuming is a genetically modified food? Currently in Canada, foodservice companies and farmers do not need to state if the food they are providing has been genetically modified. A person’s belief to genetically modified foods is their own, and they should know whether food has been altered during the production process, just as we label food to be organic or locally grown.
Within the food service industry, companies and industries need to ensure that they are providing people with the safest and most nutritious food possible. Many people consider that we are what we eat. This theory should pertain to food labels. When consuming pre-packaged food, we as a consumer should know what food we are eating, what is being placed in our food, and how our food is ending on our table. The food label is essential for a communication tool from the foodservice company to the consumer, and if the consumer does not understand that food label then there is no purpose for that label. Universal standards should be made in regards to the amount of information, what type of information should be found on the label, and the aesthetic look of the label so everyone can read it. There will be a long road ahead to see any drastic changes made to food labels. As well, it will take an extensive amount of time to see the new food labels actually implemented on products.