Food labelling – we have often been misled

Over time, I have become a consumer addicted to reading nutrition information labels on foodstuffs in my favoured food markets. In the early years it was for fat content, then it became the (often vain) hope that the GI value was quoted on breakfast cereals and now, finally, I can assess the info with some degree of intelligence.

With the advent in my life of the despised Metabolic Syndrome, I will not put a grocery item into my trolley without having read the nutritional information. I was so pleasantly surprised to see recently that a very dear friend with health issues to manage will also not purchase any item that would be detrimental to his health.

I am not for one minute saying that I am a Joan of Arc martyr to my health challenges nor a Paragon of Virtue as headmistress Reverend Mother Maria used to call me. (Poor misguided woman – luckily for me she did not deem it necessary to open nor censor my schoolgirl correspondence with a certain young gentleman at Kearsney College! Some of my Holy Family Convent school friends were not so fortunate)!

What I am saying – with much rambling, sorry – is that we need to become informed in our health choices. I ate a slice of Black Forrest cake this week – yeah horrors! – with no consequences on the scale nor my glucose readings. (Back to the comment about not being a Joan of Arc on my odyssey to health). An occasional ‘sin’ is not going to kill me as long as the ‘sins’ do not become a regular habit. Been there, done that. Never again in my lifetime. The ‘sins’ are what got me into my MS predicament in the first place.

No food is ‘bad’. All food has its place. The trick is to know which foods we must strictly limit to occasional treats and what foods are needed for vibrant health and energy.

New regulations for food labelling become mandatory in RSA from March 2011. Some retailers already have pretty good labelling on their products – PnP and Woolworths to name two.

Misleading labels will not be permitted. For example to be labelled low in kJ, a food will have to have less than 170kJ per 100g (solids) or 80kJ per 100ml (liquids). “Low fat” must contain less than 3g per 100g (solids) or 1,5g of total fat per 100ml liquids).

Don’t wait until March 2011 to start really examining what you permit down your throat! I haven’t.

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