Only 1 in every Filipino meal planners read nutrition facts

A recent nationwide survey done by the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) in 2015 showed that only 10 percent or 1 in every 10 household’s meal planners read nutrition facts among those who read food product labels.

The proportion was lower than in a 2013 FNRI survey which showed that 12.7 percent of meal planners who read product labels reported reading nutrition facts.

Product labels serve as guide to consumers in choosing which product to buy, ensuring safety in consumption of such items. Under the Revised Rules and Regulations governing the Labeling of Prepacked Food Products under the Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order No. 2014-0030, the mandatory label information include the product name or name of the food, use of brand name and/or trademark, complete list of ingredients, net contents and drained weights, name and address of manufacturer, repacker, packer, importer, trader, and distributor, and lot identification.

The 2015 FNRI survey showed that 90.2 percent of meal planners reported buying food products or beverages with labels. The most commonly bought packed food or beverage items with labels were coffee and tea (70.7%), cereals and products (69.3%), spices and condiments (50.8%), milk and products (43.7%) and meat and other animal products (42.2%).

Date of expiration (80.8%) was the most common information checked by meal planners who read product labels. This was followed by brand name (23.0%) and ingredients (20.1%). A few reported checking the cost (14.8%) and nutrition facts (10.0%) in the product labels.

Calories per serving, total fat and cholesterol were the nutrition information usually read among those who reported reading nutrition facts. Likewise, 57.1 percent of meal planners who read nutrition facts said it always influences them in buying products, while 35.3 percent reported it only influences them sometimes.

Higher proportions of meal planners always reading food product labels were found among those who reached higher education levels, younger adults, living in urban residences and belonging to higher wealth quintile groups.

These results need to be considered in the pending proposal of mandatory nutrition labeling in the Philippines. Consumers must practice reading product labels always and learn to understand the information in the nutrition facts correctly. (Source: Charina A. Javier, DOST-FNRI S&T Media Service )