Nutrition and labelling
Generally, people in the West have a greater variety of foods available to them than previous generations did. Despite this, consumers are increasingly:
- looking for better quality, improved freshness and greater convenience in foods
- looking for new food products and traditional foods presented in new ways
- increasingly concerned about the safety of the food they eat and the possible effects it might have on their health.
Look closely at several food packaging labels in your kitchen or at a shop. Notice the variety of ingredients in the products. Some components are main ingredients, while others (e.g. additives) are present in small amounts. Think about what has gone into producing the product and why some additives are present. Visit the Eat Well, Be Well and Brewing Research International websites and look at the interactive labels on each. Later we will look at some labelling features in more detail.
Safe food includes food that is nutritionally sound. Consumers have become more aware of the importance of nutrition and are demanding to know what is in a foodstuff.
Some foods are important because they are rich sources of a particular nutrient; for example, fish and meat are high in protein, butter is rich in fat and bran is high in fibre. However, fitness and health require a balanced diet - a diet containing a little of everything but not too much of anything!
The requirements for specific nutrients vary between individuals but the Government provides general guidelines for different population groups.
Food is composed of a series of macro-components such as proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, along with a series of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. There is increasing interest in the importance of some of the micronutrients.
Carefully read Section 1 of KT3. This will show some developments in the food industry and, perhaps more importantly, an outline of the main components in foods. You should then answer the following activity and SAQ. Remember our suggestion in the Course Guide on studying distance-learning media; you can apply the same technique to technical literature such as this.
Look again at several food packaging labels as you did for the previous activity. Try to match some of the ingredients against the list of roles in Table 5 in KT3.