In recent years, it has been stressed by the Food Standards Agency that labelling food with allergy and nutrition information correctly is incredibly important. Why is this?
For a start, in the UK, there has been a drastic increase in the amount of people that have food allergies over the past few years. This surely means that as a country, we should be working harder to prevent further allergy-related incidents from occurring, especially if some are due to food not being labelled correctly! In fact, the UK is listed in the top three countries in the world for allergy incidents.
People with intolerances to certain foods can develop unpleasant symptoms after consuming them. Allergies to food are typically even more dangerous. They can be life-threatening if a person that is affected by one consumes the food/substance that they are allergic to, so it is incredibly important that everything that is included in food items is listed on the packaging!
Aside from allergies and food intolerances, there are other contributing factors to the importance of labelling food correctly. Nutrition information, for example, is vital in boosting public health as people are able to determine how healthy certain foods are, and are therefore encouraged to consume a balanced diet. Not only is it important to those trying to eat healthily, it is paramount to people that are on special diets due to health conditions. Many people in the UK suffer from conditions such as diabetes, high blood lipids or heart disease, and managing their illnesses is obviously vital for their wellbeing! The nutrition information on food packaging allows them to do this, and if foods aren’t labelled correctly, then there could be great consequences for people trying to manage their diets.
Finding out where certain foods are sourced is also important to many people, as a lot of the time, food that reaches the supermarket has been modified. In many cases, people wish to know what is being fed to animals before they consume their meat, as in effect, they are finding out what is being fed to them. There was a moral panic surrounding the fact that farmers were feeding antibiotics to animals a few years ago, as this would mean that customers could be consuming the medication by eating the meat, and therefore possibly developing antimicrobial resistance (antibiotics wouldn’t work as well for them). If incidents like this are occurring, then it is obviously important that something is done to prevent them from happening again!
The agricultural industry has changed drastically in recent years, and the corporations that produce food seem more interested in gaining profit than their customer’s health. This means that if the quality of food is lowered significantly in the process of it being prepared in the fastest and cheapest way for distribution, it is likely that the food companies don’t care. As long as they are gaining profits, they will continue to churn out low quality food. The good news is, if these companies are made to include where the food is sourced and the correct nutrition information on the packaging, it is likely that consumers that care about the quality of their food will be able to determine whether it is up to standard or not.
Even though some food companies obviously have unethical priorities, it is important to remember that many of them actually have no problem with including nutrition information on their products. Many companies actually strive to improve their products, especially due to the Foods Standards Agency introducing rules that encourage them to label their products carefully. It is good for the customers, are they are able to see what they are eating, and where the food itself is from, and it is also good for the companies as they are able to boost the reputation of their products.