Nutrition Information on Packaged Foods Marketed in India: Disclosure Adequacy, Relevance, Use and Health Implications
Keywords:Nutrition Labelling, Packaged Foods, Health, Policy Implications
Health problems that stem from poor diet increase the need of nutrition labelling on food packages as it conveys meaningful information to consumers at the point of purchase and enables them to fulfill their dietary requirements. Nutrition labelling is relatively new to Indian markets, thus, the aim of this paper is to analyze the nature and extent of disclosure of nutrition information on packaged foods in India, its adequacy, nutrition quality of marketed foods according to UK traffic light food labelling criteria and consumer use of nutrition information. Primary data collected from 230 food packages have been content analyzed which reveals that although nutrition labels are present on the majority of sampled foods, yet, disclosure of mandatory nutrients is not adequate. Also, the majority of packaged foods are found to be unhealthy. Further, from a sample of 600 consumers, information was collected about nutrition knowledge, use and the reasons for not using nutrition information on food labels. It was found that consumers possess knowledge about total fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. The present study adds to existing knowledge by providing an understanding level of disclosure of nutrition information, its effectiveness when used by consumers and health implications of these disclosures to gauge the extent to which the disclosures are adequate in promoting healthful choices amongst consumers. Policy implications have also been identified that will help regulatory authorities to draft measures required for promoting health of Indian consumers.