When we go out shopping it’s hard to look at every product we buy and make a decision as to how healthy it is. This grey area was the subject of an article in the Reader’s Digest recently that criticised the lack of transparency in the labelling of some foods.
The problem is particularly evident in the wording and colour of packaging. The Reader’s Digest article claims that food manufacturers use a variety of names that may confuse shoppers.
It appears that food producers will go to great lengths to hide even simple ingredients on their packaging, a notable example being sugar. Reader’s Digest’s editor in chief, Liz Vaccariello, wrote that instead of using the word ‘sugar’ “they might use ‘evaporated cane juice’, ‘dextrose’, ‘high fructose corn syrup’ or ‘agave nectar’”.
Many of these alternative ways to describe sugar can sound exotic to most people and this is where the problem lies. People are accustomed to sugar being bad for us in large quantities, which is why making it less obvious as the primary ingredient could be seen as a way to disguise its presence in the food.
There is currently no law against the practice and it is up to the consumer to make their own minds up about buying a product. However there may come a time when legislation is introduced to make packaging more transparent in the future in order to protect consumers.