Do we know how to interpret the information that comes in the labeling?
In our blog we have talked on multiple occasions about the legal content that must include the labeling of products, in addition to Clean Labels and responsible labeling, among other related topics. But do consumers know how to interpret the information that comes on product labels? Here we will present a basic notions so that you understand better what you are buying and what are the recommended standards.
As we mentioned on other occasions, Regulation (EU) Nº1169/2011 on Food Information Provided to the Consumer regulates the nutritional content that must appear on the label. The regulations establish that all nutritional information must appear in the same visual field and that allergens must be highlighted.
Likewise, it also sets the data that must appear on the label, which are: energy value; amount of total fat and saturated fat; amount of carbohydrates and sugars; amount of protein and amount of salt. The standard suggests that, optionally, companies include the amount of: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat; polyalcohols, starch and fiber; and vitamins and minerals.
WHY DOES THE ORDER OF THE INGREDIENTS OF THE LABEL MATTER?
The ingredients are ordered from highest to lowest, according to the quantity found in the product of each item. Above the ingredients that are found to a greater extent, and below, those whose quantity is less. The less ingredients the product contains, the purer they will be, and if it is only an ingredient, it does not have to indicate the ingredients list.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE AND CALORIES
We usually consider calories our worst enemy. However, what most hurts our health and our weight, are not the calories themselves, but the sugars and saturated fats. Therefore, if we see two products with the same calories, they can be very different: the one that has the highest amount of saturated fats or sugars, will be the least recommended.
The nutritional value, which is normally calculated per 100 gr and expressed in kilojoules and kilocalories, is valuable information, since it calculates the energy value that food provides us. Although we are more familiar with calories, both parameters measure the same: the amount of fats, proteins and hydrates that contain a product.
The ingredients that can cause some kind of allergy or intolerance stand out with a different typeface. The European Union established a list of 14 allergens that producers are required to report, since they are the ones with the most allergic or intolerant people in the European Union, and those that cause more severe reactions in smaller quantities.
These are: cereals with gluten; Crustaceans and crustacean products; eggs and egg products; Fish and fish-based products; peanuts and peanut products; soy and soy products; milk and its derivatives, including lactose; nuts; celery and derived products; mustard and derived products, including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin; sesame grains and products based on sesame grains; sulfur dioxide and sulphites; lupines and lupine-based products; and mollusks and mollusc-based products.
It is very important to identify allergens on the label. Failure to do so may result in the immobilization and withdrawal of all products and, worse, the creation of an alert in the AECOSAN allergen alert system.
Labels do not usually specify the amount of natural sugar that the product carries and that which is added artificially. This does not favor us to make our purchase decision since we cannot know exactly how much sugar and hydrates this product contains. The general recommendation is that carbohydrates should not exceed 55% of the energy of food and should not exceed 25 grams of sugar a day.
Thanks are necessary for the proper functioning of our body, but we do have to control the quantity since it should not be ingested more than 30% daily.
It is mandatory that the total fat and the proportion of saturated fats appear.
Total Fats. A high fat level is considered when it contains 15 grams or more per 100, and low when it is 3 grams or less.
Saturated fats. Saturated fat level is exceeded when it provides 5 or more grams per 100.
On the other hand, it is not mandatory to indicate trans fats, but when we see that a product has partially hydrogenated oils or fats, it means that it contains them.
SALT OR SODIUM
The amount of salt we should drink per day should not exceed 5 grams according to the WHO.
A food will have a high level of salt if it contains 1.25 grams or more per 100, and low between 0.25 grams and less. In addition to salt, additives such as sodium also contain salt, so you have to take them into account. 5 grams of salt per day equals 2 grams of sodium daily.
Failure to perform the labeling of a food supplement well, can cause significant damage to companies as it must (i) remove all labels, (ii) notify all customers and networks of the withdrawal of the labeling, (iii) respond to an alert that will cause inspections to our customers for that reason with the possible loss of image, discredit or bad being that can cause.