The big problem behind the hottest little label

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The big problem behind small labels

nutrition labels are the main means to show the composition, characteristics and performance of food, and transmit food nutrition information to consumers. They are the simplest and most direct way for consumers to obtain nutrition knowledge

with the increasingly frequent international trade, nutrition labeling has gradually become an important non-tariff barrier measure adopted by the United States. According to statistics, from January 1, 2001 to August 13, 2004, the United States issued 50 notifications on new food labeling requirements to the WTO, including 11 notifications on nutrition labeling requirements. This shows the extent to which the United States attaches importance to nutrition labels

due to the extremely strict requirements on food nutrition labels in the United States, China's food exports to the United States have been blocked repeatedly because of the unqualified production of nutrition labels. It is reported that since 1987, about 25% of the food detained by the U.S. Customs in China every year is because the nutrition label does not comply with the provisions of the nutrition labeling and Education Act (NLEA) issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

therefore, it is necessary for us to fully grasp the specific regulatory requirements of food nutrition labels in the United States, understand the relevant forms of technical barriers to trade, and actively take countermeasures in combination with the current situation of food nutrition labels in China

technical barriers to food nutrition labeling in the United States are in three forms

the nutrition labeling and education act of 1990 gives the U.S. Food and drug administration a privilege, that is, it requires that the nutrition labels of most foods should comply with FDA regulations, and the nutrition declaration and health declaration must comply with FDA regulations. On January 6, 1993, the United States issued a regulation implementing the labeling provisions of the nutrition labeling and Education Act, and published a draft technical amendment on August 18 of the same year. On May 8th, 1994, the provisions of the nutrition labeling regulation came into force, but according to the bill of Parliament, it was not implemented until August 8th, 1994. Since then, the United States has begun to strictly regulate food nutrition labels. In international trade, with the reduction of tariff barriers, food nutrition labeling has gradually become a new technical trade barrier

the requirements of the United States for food nutrition labels are not static, but gradually refined and strict with the improvement of productivity and the increasingly strong public health requirements. At this stage, the technical barriers to trade of food nutrition labels in the United States are mainly in the following forms

strict label format, increased production costs

the U.S. Food and drug administration has made strict regulations on the form of nutrition label forms. The thickness of any line in the table and the area of any table have certain dimensions. Food processing enterprises must make them according to regulations and must not give free play to them. Therefore, many Chinese food export enterprises have to abandon the original label design and make new labels according to the regulations of the United States, which greatly increases the production cost. Manufacturers in the United States have to pay an extra $1.05 billion a year to meet the requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for food nutrition labels. For other countries, the cost of label manufacturing is increasing

refine the concept of "portion" and standardize the expression terms

first, the U.S. Food and drug administration stipulates that food consumption units should be calculated by "portion". The amount of food an adult man eats at a meal during mild physical activity is "one serving". The specific amount of each food should be indicated in units, such as the size of each 20 grams. The units used should be easily recognized and accepted by consumers, such as "ounces, milliliters, flakes, teaspoons, cups" and so on. The number of servings contained in each package should be indicated, such as 5 servings per container

secondly, the expression in the nutrition label of the U.S. Food and drug administration stipulates strict conditions for use. For example, high calcium, low fat and sugar free should be labeled only when they meet a certain limit. "High" means that the content of each component must be 20% or more of the daily recommended intake or daily reference amount. Claiming that a certain ingredient is "low" or "the whole process defense rate remains unchanged without a certain ingredient" means that it has been specially treated to reduce or eliminate the ingredient, and the content of each ingredient should also be lower than a certain limit

the labeling of calories and nutrients is complex, making it more difficult to detect

the U.S. Food and drug administration requires food enterprises to indicate the calories and some more than 10 nutrients contained in each dose in order on the nutrition label. The specific items are: calories, fat calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium Iron. Recently, the United States has introduced a new regulation requiring the content of trans fatty acids to be marked in the nutrition labels of traditional foods and dietary supplements. This is also a major change since the establishment of the nutrition labeling system in the United States. Among the ingredients required to be labeled for nutrition during this year's composite knot material exhibition, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar and protein should be marked with the specific quality contained in each quantity, such as total fat 3G and sodium 350mg. Total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, niacin, calcium, iron should also be marked with the percentage of each content in the daily recommended intake (RDA). In addition, enterprises should also indicate the reference value of daily reference intake (DRV) of nutrients. The daily reference intake (DRV) is based on 2000 calories and meets the health conditions of Americans

it can be seen from the labeling requirements of nutritional components in food nutrition labels in the United States that the testing content is quite complex. In order to make a complete and qualified nutrition label, enterprises need to test more than ten items. According to statistics, the cost of testing the corresponding items of each food nutrition label is 500 to 2000 dollars. In China, there are not many enterprises that really have the strength of all project testing. Most enterprises need to entrust testing institutions for testing. Due to the precision and advanced equipment required for the detection of some items, it may not be possible to carry out as desired in the location of the enterprise. Therefore, many enterprises still need to travel long distances to take samples to other places for testing, which also increases the cost of products

the current situation of food nutrition labels in China is not optimistic

objectively speaking, there are indeed many problems to be solved in China's food nutrition labels. Because China's food nutrition labels are in the formation stage, the production of food nutrition labels is not perfect. For example, the disordered expression format of nutrition labels and inaccurate nutrition statements are easy to cause consumers to misunderstand and and difficult to compare and judge. There are many reasons for this situation. The main internal reason for unqualified nutrition labels is that enterprises do not make nutrition labels strictly; Lack of standards and basis, and insufficient government supervision are external reasons; Consumers' insufficient attention to nutrition labels and lack of nutrition knowledge have led to the loss of an important monitoring group in a broad sense

four measures to deal with the technical barriers to trade of food nutrition labels in the United States

give full play to the functions of the government

the Chinese Nutrition Society conducted a questionnaire survey on nutrition labels among nearly 1000 consumers. The results showed that nearly 79% of consumers wanted to use food nutrition labels to understand and choose food; 80% of consumers think that nutrition labels are too messy, with different opinions, and the language is difficult to understand; At the same time, more than 90% of consumers do not believe in the authenticity of nutrition labels. These data show that consumers want to standardize the management of nutrition labels

the government is duty bound to guide, supervise and manage enterprises. Specifically, government departments should do a good job in three aspects. First, be a good pilot of enterprises. For foreign laws and regulations, domestic enterprises may not be able to get them in time, and some can't even find detailed information to obtain the specific provisions of foreign laws and regulations for a long time. To this end, China has set up a special agency to carry out this business. For example, the China WTO notification and consultation center of the General Administration of quality supervision, inspection and Quarantine of the people's Republic of China (AQSIQ) is involved in this business. It is the contact window between China and WTO members, and also the frontier for China to obtain the notification of WTO members on Amending laws and regulations or formulating new import and export requirements. Second, be a good supervisor of enterprises. For the nutrition labels made by food enterprises exporting to the United States, the relevant departments of our country should check for the enterprises before exporting. Find and solve problems in time to avoid returning goods due to unqualified labels, which will cause serious economic losses. Third, be a good administrator of the enterprise. Without rules, nothing can be achieved. Government departments can regulate the production of nutrition labels by enacting laws. At present, the Ministry of health has formulated the "food nutrition label standard" and the "food nutrition label management measures", and is now soliciting opinions from the society. The study on the food nutrition labeling system of the Hong Kong SAR government has also been completed, and the environmental health department has held a public consultation on the nutrition labeling system

strengthen the self-discipline of enterprises

on the premise that the production of nutrition labels is qualified, enterprises should pay attention to the authenticity of the marked data. Fuyang inferior milk powder has caused the death of many infants due to severe malnutrition, which gives us a deep reflection. Observing its nutrition label, the labeled ingredients seem to meet the needs of infant growth and development, but in fact, the test results are far from the nutritional content indicated on the label. Nutrition labels like this are not uncommon in our daily life

therefore, we call on food processing enterprises to ensure the health and safety of consumers as the first priority, ensure product quality, standardize the production of nutrition labels, and eliminate fraud. Win domestic and overseas markets with high standard and strict product quality. Under this premise, even if the nutrition labeling rules formulated by the United States are very strict, we will have a high export rate

strengthen the data detection of nutrition labels

in order to ensure the high reliability of the content of nutrition labels and make consumers feel safe and reliable, it is recommended that the government inspection departments detect the contents of nutrition labels. On the one hand, configure precision instruments to ensure the accuracy of test results. On the other hand, improve the testing level of inspectors, and provide professional training on the use of precision instruments to ensure good inspection operation

popularize nutrition knowledge and improve consumers' cognitive level

food nutrition labels are of positive significance to the public's nutrition improvement. Consumers can correctly choose foods suitable for their nutritional needs through nutrition labels, so as to achieve the purpose of reasonable nutrition and health protection. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen public nutrition education so that consumers can correctly understand the information conveyed by nutrition labels and make full use of the right to know. At the same time, the improvement of consumers' awareness of nutrition will also play a certain role in supervising food enterprises, which will further spur food enterprises to develop towards the standardization of food nutrition labels

information source: Longyuan journal

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