Food Product Labeling: Consumer’s Issue of Informative Eating

The rapidly growing population and their demand for food are increasing day by day. To fulfill these demands many farmers, industrialists, and businessmen are giving their best. Most of the processed, fermented, and preserved food products are manufactured and their shelf-life is maintained with proper packaging and labeling. Labeling is done to make people aware of the ingredients used, nutritional values, date of manufacture, and expiry. Knowing where foods come from and how it was produced allows consumers to be informed about the impact of food on their health and the health of the planet.But, due to ignorance
and lack of awareness many food items are being wasted causing a negative impact on health as the use of such food products are still common among us. In order to reduce the rate of processed food wastage, proper labeling is the most important factor. As already mentioned, labeling includes:

  1. Name of product
  2. Ingredients used
  3. Allergen information
  4. Quantitative declaration of
    ingredients and nutritional
  1. Net quantity
  2. Storage condition and date labeling
  3. Name and address of the manufacturer. Different items use different kinds of terms. The dates are often used for food products, medicines, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products. First of all, we need to understand that whatever the date or type of date it is, it cannot be a wild guess or based on mere experience. A manufacturer or packager has to declare this on every consumer or retail pack and has to be based on solid evidence and facts, i.e. Shelf life study. It is both real-time as well as accelerated. Now coming back to the most used date types, they are: Expiry date: The expiry date of any food product is that date which tells consumers the last day a food product is safe to consume. Simply it is the date beyond which the food product is not safe for consumption. Best before date: Food that has been stored properly is still safe to eat after the best- before date. One simple way of minimizing waste is to look, smell, and taste the food. Trust your senses – if they tell you that the food is still good, feel free to eat it. The best-before date does not refer to safety but

to how long the product will retain its quality: flavor, colour, crispness, resilience, and firmness. Quality gradually deteriorates after the best-before date. But the food may still be perfectly edible. The best-before date assumes that the food has been stored properly. The label will often tell you what the proper storage procedures are. If temperature affects durability time, it might say, “Chilled food: do not store above 8° C” on the package. The colder you store food, the longer it lasts. There’s a big difference between 4-5° C and 8° C in that respect. Under the heading to the left, you will find advice on storing different kinds of food. While the best-before date assumes that the container is unopened, the item may keep longer than that even if it has been opened. For example, an open carton of milk that has not been outside the refrigerator very long may be good for several more days. Use by date: Manufacturers specify a use-by date if they think that the product can deteriorate quickly and become a health risk. The use-by date is the last day the manufacturer guarantees that the food can be consumed without putting your health at risk.

Foods with an expired use-by date may not be sold or donated.

Who sets the best- before and use-by date? All packaged food is to be labeled with a best-before date – or a use-by date in certain cases. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as a few other items, are exempt from the requirement. The company that is responsible for the product, usually the manufacturer or packager, determines its expected durability time. Date labels are often linked to storage instructions. Everyone who handles the food, from the manufacturer to the retailer, is responsible for making sure that it is safe and that it is shipped and stored according to the instructions. Typically, manufacturers use ‘best before’, ‘use by’, and ‘sell by’ to give consumers an idea on

days for which a product remains safe. Arriving at these dates require a lot tracking system in the background to identify product details, year of manufacture or crop harvesting date and possible expiration dates. Checking of Expiration Date by Lot Number Identification. The content, format, and syntax of the lot number can vary from one enterprise to another, depending on the desired degree of precision. The lot number can identify all the products made in a day at the facility or products produced in an hour from a single individual packing line. It could also be unique to a single recipe run and is found on a product in various places including:

  1. Within your lot tracking or ERP software
  2. On the outside packaging so it’s visible to consumers
  3. Within the supplier or manufacturer records. How to Find Expiration Date by Lot number: – Lot number example: 200322403
  4. The first two digits (20) refer to the year of manufacture (2020)
  5. The next two digits (03) identify the month the product was manufactured (March) or the date of manufacture
  1. The following two numerals (22) refer to the day of the year
  2. The next figure (4) is the company plant number
  3. The figures (03) represent the product batch of that day

The trend and concept of consuming food products without seeing the product’s label is a major issue in our nation. Many health issues can be overcome if we know what we are eating. The information regarding our food product can be best- obtained from the food label. Therefore every consumer must develop a habit of eye eating that is observing product information with our eyes, thinking with our mind, and eating with our mouths. Therefore, to stay healthy one must eat healthy and have a complete knowledge on all these product labeling concepts.

By: Sudip Devkota
Sunsari Technical College
Btech. Food

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