Food Labeling Regulations in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Countries: Benefits, Challenges and Implications
Keywords:Food labeling, Regulations, Harmonization, Nutrition
AbstractFood labels describe the content of a food and are intended to guide the consumer in food selection. The nutrition information provided must be in consistency with legal requirements and dietary recommendations. Selection of the specific nutrients or food components to be listed should further take into account label space, the analytical feasibility of measuring the particular nutritional component within the food matrix, and the relative costs of such analyses. Information provided on labels should be truthful and not mislead consumers. At the same time, labeling regulations should provide incentives to manufacturers to develop products that promote public health and assist consumers in following dietary recommendations. In some countries some segments of the population benefit from information about the composition of foods. In such cases, countries should consider the need to provide for appropriate labeling and its presentation relative to existing regulations. Different approaches and legal requirements have been established. These create difficulties in developing and harmonizing labels, which have broad international applications. For these reasons, the Codex Guidelines on food labeling play an important role to provide guidance to member countries when they want to develop or update their national regulations and to encourage harmonization of national with international standards. These Guidelines are based on the principle that no food should be described or presented in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive. Exchange of information at the regional and sub-regional level is important, as each country can learn from the experience of others and regional co-ordination and co-operation can be developed.
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