Sunday, May 13, 2012

Learn food label (read before you shop!)


As I went for vacation and seminar two weeks ago, I went to many market, again, discovered one common mistakes consumer usually make, they are so attracted to latest advertisement, brand, free gift and also promotion. I posted before about the importance of food label, I would like to spend an hour now to re-emphasize how we can be a smart consumer in picking the right food and beverages. What do you usually buy from market? Look for the cheapest price, brand or quality? So, to guarantee you will buy the right products for the best of your health, it is necessary for everyone to learn how to read food label before you make any purchase of foods and beverages.

As a smart consumer, there are some simple things we should be aware with food products. The first things that we should pay attention to is about expire date. Normally for canned food, there will have shelf life about 2  to 5 years while for milk products, those ready to drink packet wil last for around half year; powder can last longer for around 1 year. I had bad experience with some shops as they simply put those expired biscuit mix together with those non expired biscuit. Thus, no matter what type or what brand of food or beverages products, remember expired date is a very important check point for your purchase.



Next is about nutrition label (an image of nutrition label is as above as what I snapped). Nowadays a lot of products claim less sugar or low fat, but is it really ‘less’ sugar or what can we understand about the term of less sugar. Actually less sugar is more directed to reduce 25% of sugary content from its original products. For example, if a packet of original flavor soy milk contain 20g sugar per serving, less sugar soy milk still contains around 15g sugar which is equal to 3 tsp per serving/ packet. According WHO, female is allowed a maximum 71/2tsp and male with maximum 10tsp in a day. Hence, this 3 tsp means you already take around 40% from the maximum total sugar intake in one day. We should bear in mind that not only beverages provide sugar but your snack such as biscuit or ice cream do contain certain amount of sugar. Some people are unaware about this and this lead towards diabetes mellitus in future life. Thus, we really need to look at the nutrition facts before purchase.

Another problem we might face is cereal products such as cereal drink or oat drinks. We never read the nutrition fact when we shop for those beverages. Some just blindly follow advertisement for the most popular or most branded one. One thing we shouldn’t miss out is about sugar. Most of the products will mention amount of sugar for one serving. If you are able to find that less than 5g per serving, that is consider low sugar products while those more than 15g per serving is in the category of high sugar beverages. If those products without label of sugar amount, try look into the ingredients part to identify any added sugars  such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, corn or maple syrup  which add calories but not other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Lastly, we should always look for nutrition label of a food product before 100% believe it is a healthy product from its advertisement.

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