by Jason Huang
What is your favourite fresh fruit? I do believe each of you can find your favourite one in a food store or supermarket. And lucky for you, when you eat fresh fruit, you do not need to worry about the problem that what you eat is not what you want. For example, when you eat a fresh pear, you know it looks like a pear, it tastes like a pear, so it undoubtful is a pear. However, if you eat or drink a manufactured food like pear flavour juice or beverage, are you sure what you drink is what you think? The answer to this question may be yes or no. If you are not sure, this article could give you some ideas on what you could consider when you eat or drink manufactured food, in other words – transparency of your food.
Transparency of your food has two layers of meaning. The basic level of the meaning is you know what ingredients are in your food. The higher level of the meaning is you know where are your food comes from. So how do you know the transparency of your food? The answer is to read the label information on the packaging of your food.
The consumer desire to know how and where food was grown or made” and “The consumer expectation for clarity, accuracy, and usefulness of food-related information from the companies that produce and sell it.” There are many components of transparency such as primary product claims such as “organic” vegan, halal, suitable for vegetarian and “antibiotic-free” and grower information such as “GMO-free,” “cage-free,” “sustainable” and “fair trade.
Transparency definitely drives more consumer trust, loyalty and confidence to make a purchase decision and loyal to brand, if the food manufactures or the retailers provided access to complete and easy to understand definitions for all ingredients. Some consumers are willing to pay more for products that offer high level of transparency
Transparency has become increasingly important to consumers. They want to know exactly what they’re buying and are demanding it from retailers. Consumers are looking for food retailers to have a culture of trust and transparency across their organization. The transparency of ingredients and products information details, back traceability of food products influence the way food products are marketed, with the focus shifting toward ingredients and processes, as well as the manufacturer’s backstory, as opposed to traditional advertising alone.
Generally, label information includes food name, ingredients, nutritional value, use instruction, warning information, manufacturer name, and address. All of the information is a normally mandatory requirement of the government. However, food manufacturers are very smart. They know how to attract consumers’ eyes while avoiding breaking food regulation requirements. For example, some juice products are named “orange juice”, some others are named “orange flavour juice”. Do you think “orange juice” is the same as “orange flavour juice”? I can tell you probably the answer is no. Food manufacturers may use over 50% apple juice and 10% orange juice to produce “orange flavour juice”. So, you need to carefully read the name, subtitle, and percentage of ingredients on the label of the food, then you will know what exactly the food is.
Another interesting piece of information on labels of food is the ingredient list. Most of the time, you can read the names of ingredients in this list. However, sometimes you will find some interesting numbers, such as “621” in the ingredient list. These numbers are allowed to mark in the ingredient list on food labels according to food regulations. But I would like to ask you a question again, do you know what is “621”? If you google it, you will find “621” is a food additive Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG). Till now you may start to notice it is not easy for you to understand the transparency of your food. But you know it is never late for you to carefully read the label information on the packaging of manufactured food. You can start to practice reading and understanding the name of the food and the ingredient list on food packaging. Consumers always need to read the instructions, warning information, and the nutritional value of your food for safe food consumption.