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Will new food labelling help us eat healthier?

food label

food-labelThe battle against obesity has led our Government to sign off on new food labelling regulations that will help shoppers know with more certainty whether their choices are healthy or not.

What the label changes mean

The aim of these changes:

– To help us make better informed choices
– To reduce misleading marketing and advertising claims

The new labels mean the companies making the food and drinks will have to be able to back up any health claims with scientific evidence. This can cover claims ranging from a broad statement, such as ‘low in fat’ or something more specific like ‘boosts calcium absorption by 50 per cent’.

If food companies are found to have misleading or false statements on their packaging, they have three years to comply with the new labelling changes, which are due to take effect in New Zealand from 9 May 2013. The reason for this taking such a long time is to help prevent companies from raising food prices suddenly to cater for the price of relabelling their goods.

Will new food labelling help, or won’t it?

Unfortunately, it’s not just the label statements that are the problem; what companies leave out can be just as important. Gareth Morgan’s blog talks about an ad that advises a product boosts calcium absorption by 50 percent,Β  but doesn’t mention the fact it also increases sugar intake by 70 per cent.

What else can we do? The ‘traffic light’ system has been debated before, where foods high in fat or sugar are ‘bad’ for you and given a red light while foods good for you are given a green light (and ones somewhere in between, orange). But then there’s the issue that foods high in fat or sugar content may not necessarily be all that bad for you. For example, avocados are high in fat; but they’re definitely better for you than chips. Fruit can be high in natural sugars, but eating an apple is healthier than eating a slice of cake.

What do you think? Will this new food labelling help us to eat healthier? What can we do to help Kiwis eat better? Join the conversation and comment below!

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Stuart Miles

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