Food and nutrition labelling : the past, present and the way forward
CITATION: Koen, N., Blaauw, R. & Wentzel-Viljoen, Edelweiss. 2016. Food and nutrition labelling : the past, present and the way forward. South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 29(1):13-21.
The original publication is available at http://www.sajcn.co.za
Current global mortality from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) remains unacceptably high and is increasing. A major reduction in the burden of NCDs should come from population-wide interventions, including the promotion of a healthy diet through the provision of adequate nutrition information on food labels. However, in order for this type of intervention to be successful, it is important to have a better understanding of the consumer. This review focuses on the need for food and nutrition labelling (the section of information on a food label that specifically declares nutrient content) within the context of NCDs, as well as consumer nutrition label use, and understanding and the impact of nutrition labelling on purchasing behaviour. It provides a summary of the latest global nutrition labelling trends, the current situation in South Africa and the way forward. Consumer knowledge, use and understanding of nutrition labelling has been investigated extensively in the international literature. However, the majority of these investigations were conducted in developed countries. Therefore, additional research on the impact of nutrition labelling in developing countries is necessary, and should be a priority. There have been many developments in South Africa in terms of food and nutrition labelling in the last decade. Although the food industry, health professionals and consumers face many changes, challenges and opportunities with regard to food, and specifically to nutrition labelling, this is also the ideal time to promote the use and understanding of nutrition information on labels by health professionals to consumers.