The labels that you see applied to every article on the supermarket shelves have had a varied life. Even looking at the growth of label awareness through my eyes it’s quite fascinating. The only time I ever read labels years ago, was when I was looking at toxicity levels on dangerous goods. Before that, it was a matter of it’s on the shelf, that’s what I want, toss it in the trolley. With strange things happening in the food industry, what with dodgy product and misleading labels, it has now become a matter of necessity to read the label before buying.
Having said that, I still get lazy when I am buying the same product on a regular basis. For example, if I buy a particular brand of tinned tuna each week, I am not about to read the label each time I place it in my shopping basket. Why is that? Because you trust a particular brand because you have been buying it for ages, that’s why. And you don’t expect there to be any changes to that product over a week. How silly is that? Real stupid, actually. If the company changed hands, was taken over or alterations were made in the production facility, the new owners might have decided to make some changes to the additives of that product. That means changing the details on the label, one would presume.
One thing I always did was to read the ‘Use By Date’ on everything I bought. If it was something like milk, and I knew it was going to be in my fridge for 3-4 days, then I wanted the freshest product. I might add that the ‘Use By Date’ can be a recommended period as well and there have been many times that I have eaten or drank something that was well and truly out of date…but not milk J.
There was a very interesting article on the internet I was reading the other day about the details that go onto a label. The article had picked up a story written about a survey carried out by a Data Label who were interested to know from people of what they thought about food labelling in general. A surprisingly high percentage (31%) of respondents said they didn’t trust information given on labels with 14% saying they didn’t trust them at all, period. Scary stuff.
Not surprisingly one of the main reasons for the lack of trust was the way in which the information was given on a label made it difficult for most people to understand. If you are really careful about what foods you and your family eat, then the information on the labels should be crystal clear. What is fat and what is unsaturated fat, for example. When a label says ‘sugar’ does it mean ‘natural sugar’ or ‘added sugar’? It is comforting to know, however, that at least somebody is looking into the problem. The growing awareness of the consumer needs to be accompanied by a better labelling system that leaves no doubt in anybody’s mind as to what they are putting into their bodies.