Africa/EU/ America/Asia - Improper Food Labeling and Unverified Food Claims: Food Safety Implications
Oct 24, 2022
Increasing food safety and nutritional concerns the world over has made proper food labeling and verification of food claims mandatory. Food labels offer many functions one of which is establishing communication between food manufacturers and consumers. When food labels bear false information or unverified claims, it defeats the aim of “protecting consumers health and preventing food fraud” as stated by Food and Agriculture Organization. This act poses food safety risks to consumers as in cases of food allergies. This study aimed at reviewing the current situation of food labeling and food claims in different regions including Africa, Europe, America and Asia; the safety implications of improper food labeling and unverified food claims, and the role of government, consumers and manufacturers as stakeholders in ensuring proper food labeling. Several scholarly works were consulted and screened for information relevant to the subject. Most previous studies on food labeling revolved around awareness and consumer behavior towards usage of labels on prepackaged foods. Information regarding the food safety implication of claims on food label was found to be scarce. Results from this review reveal progress so far while encouraging Food Scientists, Food Microbiologists, Food Developers, Plant Scientists and relevant professional bodies to research and provide more insight towards plant/food ingredients and their potential to offer nutrient and health benefits in order to substantiate current and future food claims. Intensification of efforts by the government and regulatory bodies towards regulation of food labeling and usage of logos; verification and approval of health and nutritional claims is recommended, especially in developing countries. Sensitization of consumers (especially the elderly and consumers with special health needs) by nutritional society groups, government and non-governmental bodies is also recommended to ensure correct understanding and interpretation of nutrient and health claims.