Food labels: do you know how to read them and what to pay attention to?

Reading the labels you find on food is essential to learn to understand the nutritional values ​​and correct information on the use of the different products stored. By paying attention to the expiration and packaging dates, and of course the nutritional values ​​of what you buy and eat, you will find that some foods are very useful for your diet. Today watch our video and discover with us the foods that lower cholesterol!

Food labels: careful reading and conscious choices are essential for the consumer

In any case, shopping for food involves a great responsibility. What do you need to know about the labeling of food products? A lot. Let's start by saying that the first deficiency in the products put on the market is found in the stamp of the dates set for consuming the products. Very often the indications are illegible, discolored and located in the most unthinkable of the packaging, as if to hide them. In addition, attention must be paid to dishonest traders who put white stamps with other expiry dates on the real printed date, taking advantage of the good faith and distraction of the buyers. The ingredients are listed in descending order. Therefore, the one in greater quantity is the first and so on. The "food must be consumed by the expiration date, preceded by the words" To be consumed by ", which does not coincide with the minimum conservation term (TMC) with the inscription "Best before". The minimum storage time can therefore be extended for an obviously short period of time, without damage to health, as only some characteristics such as taste and smell can change in the products, due to the lower freshness. On the labeling of packaged products there is also the writing "day and month", if a food can be kept for less than 3 months, "month and year", if it can be kept for up to eighteen months, only "year" , if you can keep it for more than eighteen months.

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Food labels from producer to consumer: drinks and alcohol

The introduction of alcohol labeling regulations provides sufficient information to the customer, even though it has been hindered in some European countries by international institutions and entrepreneurs in the alcoholic industry. Alcoholic labeling should primarily address consumer health information and nutrition claims and ensure a more regulated presentation of the messages reaching shoppers. Food labels should not be hidden, obscured or restricted by other elements that may adversely interfere . Compared to other food products or to sectors such as the sale of cigarettes, the labeling on products is still rather limited and the rules are not yet all aligned with the recommendations of the WHO (Alcohol labeling: a discussion document on policy options of 2017) concerning policy options and a series of issues for alcohol labeling, including visibility of communication, size of the label and modification of messages when necessary. alcohol, especially for pregnant women and minors, and the relationship between alcohol and car driving. An agreement was also envisaged for the creation of a data consultation on the Internet. The nutritional information regarding alcohol will therefore be easy to consult on portals that can be accessed for free. Among the ingredients shown online will be indicated all the raw materials of alcohol.

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Food labels: from the correct way of storage to allergens and the use of products

Always check if the product contains ingredients to which you or your family members are allergic or intolerant. Allergens are highlighted on the product packaging with an underline, using bold or a different color from the rest of the printed information. It is done with foods that most frequently cause allergies or intolerances in some subjects, namely cereals with gluten, crustaceans, molluscs, lupins, mushrooms, eggs, peanuts, soy, milk and derivatives, nuts, celery, sesame. Carefully follow the instructions on food storage and use and always check the net weight of the products. Even restaurateurs have the obligation to display clearly on special blackboards every single ingredient used in the menu, underlining the presence of any allergens. When purchasing products, do not put them in the fridge without checking the temperature at which on the label of each food. the product must be kept chilled or frozen. Choose foods that are packaged with recycled material or that can be recycled after use. The illustrations on food packages are often meant to grab the customer's attention and do not always really match the look of the food. Preferably buy transparent packages, which give you the possibility to check the real status of the product.If you shop for food online, check that the site has web pages with all the information on the products in accordance with the law. This information must be reported by food manufacturers by law (EU Regulation 1169/2011). There are obligations for the labeling of specific additives: Sunset yellow (E 110), Carmoisina (E 122), Rosso allura (E 129), Tartrazine (E 102), Ponceau (E 124). According to the European regulation n. 1333/2008, foods that contain these additives (for example ice lollies, ice creams and candies) must bear the words on the label: "It can negatively affect the activity and attention of children".

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The nutrition declaration on food labels

Mandatory on the label of each packaged food is the nutritional declaration regarding energy value, fats, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and salt. To all this, further specifications can optionally be added. Affirming or suggesting the particular beneficial properties that a food possesses as regards the nutritional content. In this way the producer can make known the specific qualities of his product and the buyer can orient himself in the choice according to his tastes and needs. If the producer affixes a "food" label with the words "without" printed on it, indicates that the quantity of that "ingredient or additive substance is more or less zero." If he uses "low content" there is a greater presence of it than he uses "without". If "reduced" is written on the label, it means that in the food that nutrient is less than 30% of the content normally used. To indicate that a food has beneficial properties for health problems it is necessary to mention the quantity of food and the way to consume it in order to obtain and specify the importance of a well balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. for example the words "reduces cholesterol" or "reduces water retention" must have been approved by EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, and proven by rigorous scientific studies.

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Food labels: rules, obligations and regulations

For beef, fresh and frozen pork, sheep, goat and poultry species, fish, fruit and vegetables, honey, extra virgin olive oil, the country of origin and place of origin must be specified and so also for durum wheat, rice, milk and dairy products. For milk and dairy products, the "country of milking" and the "country of packaging or processing" or simply the "origin of the milk" and the country of provenance must also be specified on the label, if all operations take place in the same State. It can also be indicated whether or not the milk comes from EU countries or whether it has been processed in EU countries or in other countries. In addition to the ingredients, allergens and expiry date, the state or treatment to which the food has been subjected (freeze-dried, frozen, concentrated, smoked) must also be mentioned on the packaging of the food products.Last year the Italians proposed a nutritional labeling system in Europe, called NutrInform Battery, to indicate the nutritional intake of a food in relation to the daily needs of an individual, specifying the percentages of calories, fat, sugars and salt for each portion based on the quantities deemed sufficient by the European Commission. With the onset of the pandemic, many decisions have been extended. According to the Ministry of Health, food labels must be read very carefully so as not to end up with unwanted purchases. In summary, article 9 of the European Regulation thus lists the mandatory indications on the label of each type of food product: name of the food; ingrediants; substances that can cause allergies and intolerances; net weight; minimum storage term or expiration date; conditions of conservation and / or use; name or business name and address of the food business operator; country of origin or place of provenance; actual alcoholic strength by volume, for beverages with more than 1.2% alcohol by volume; nutrition declaration. The new product legislation was created to create the same legislation for all EU member states, to make regulations simpler, to meet the needs of producers and provide for the protection and correct information of consumers. The common legislative text contains all the identical labeling rules for all EU member states, including the nutrition declaration, product presentation and advertising, as well as the rules on substances that can cause allergies and intolerances.

Now you know: in any case, never let yourself be fascinated by the product without reading the label!

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