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Read the labels

Dawn Gibson
Monday, August 18, 2014

READING food labels is one of those things that seems like a good idea, but once people head out to shopping centres, they almost forget all about it.

They end up opting for the cheaper product or the one they are used to and often do not glance at the labels to be sure of a few important bits of information.

Consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council of Fiji, reported people had become so used to a product by its name or brand that they no longer saw the need to learn more about it.

Council CEO Premila Kumar said this was sometimes problematic because this information included the product's nutritional facts, when it was manufactured and where it came from.

"Food labelling is one of the crucial factors to maintain food safety. Food labelling is used to inform consumers of the properties of pre-packaged food," Mrs Kumar said, adding therefore consumers should take the time to read through it.

"Nutrient declaration is mandatory for foods for which nutrition claims are made. There is mandatory requirement now to declare nutrient content on the label.

"It is mandatory to declare energy, protein, carbohydrate, trans-fat, sugar, sodium (salt), saturated fats and unsaturated fats."

She said in Fiji, it was compulsory that the language on the packet was written out in English. "Or if foreign languages are used, it is mandatory that an English translation is included in the label.

"The law also requires that whatever information that is placed on the food label is accurate and not misleading. Non-compliance can result in penalties."

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