Only 19.6 percent (%) or about 1 in 10 of Pinoy consumers read food product labels, while only 16.7% of them only check the expiration date and nutrition facts before buying.
This is according to an article “Socio-demographic Determinants of Filipino Consumers Reading Food Product Labels and Nutrition Facts”, which is based on the results of the 2018-2019 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of the Department of Science and Technology- Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) about the consumers’ use of nutrition information on processed food products.
The same survey also reported that reading labels is associated with the socio-economic status of the consumer.
The higher the consumer's economic and educational level, the more frequently and in- depth is the manner of reading product labels, the survey noted.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Guidelines on Nutrition Labeling, the two types of nutrition labeling are the nutrient declaration and the supplementary nutrition information.
The nutrient declaration lists the nutrient contents of the food, while the supplementary nutrition information increases the consumer's understanding of the nutritional value of food and assists in interpreting the nutrient declaration.
Here in the country, Administrative Order (A.O.) 88-B series of 1984, provides the rules and regulations governing the labeling of pre-packaged food products distributed nationwide. This is to inform Filipino consumers about the content, nutritional properties, and necessary instructions of the food they are buying.
Moreso, as mentioned by Velasco (2018) in the Philippine Star article, the Department of Health-Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA) is mandated to regulate food products and "aligns its domestic policies on food-nutrition labeling with the guidelines provided by the Codex Alimentarius."
The Codex Alimentarius is a set of internationally-recognized standards, codes of practices, and guidelines on food products, food production, and food safety, the article states.
The DOST-FNRI recommends that the DOH-FDA redesign the nutrition information panel on food products to make it easier for consumers to make informed food choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.
The DOH-FDA must address the serving size inconsistencies in nutrition labeling, reduce the amount of complicated information on the nutrition panel, and adopt or improve front-of-pack (FOP) labeling systems, the DOST-FNRI recommendation added.
Further, the Institute recommends that other research institutes conduct studies on nutrition labelling and focus on developing better numeric and non-numeric strategies to communicate nutrition information to the public.
Likewise, the national government agencies should initiate intensive awareness campaigns on nutrition labelling among consumers using both traditional and digital technology information drives.
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