Questionable Effects of Nutrition Labeling on Fast-food Packaging

Monash University students do not find the nutritional information on fast-food packaging effective for choosing healthier food after Victorian Government’s push in February.

“I don’t think that would really effect much”, says Joey Liptapanlop, a 20-year-old Monash University student who regularly has one meal of fast-food at least once a week. He has never noticed that there was a nutrition label on his KFC Snack Box. “It wouldn’t stop me”, says Joey, as a response to Victorian Government’s impetus on nutrition labeling with the aim to help people make balanced food choices.

He thinks people who really care about what fast-food contains would not have chosen to eat it in the first place. “Someone who’s still relatively… I suppose young and healthy, can afford the luxury of choosing what I like rather than what’s good for me at this point.”

Another regular fast-food consumer, Jessie Redman, also thinks nutrition labeling does not influence on her since “I go to fast-food restaurants with an urge for those crispy deep-fried stuff.” People seldom notice the labels and they ignore what’s on the fast-food packaging. “I probably wouldn’t bother looking either”, says Joey.

Rather than influencing on young people, the nutrition labeling might help parents more when making balanced choices for kids. However, the outcome is still doubtful because people can check the packaging only after they pay and receive the meal.

Other questions people have are the accurateness of the labels and their allegedly misleading way of listing. “I was reading a packet yesterday, it displayed that it was 300kj. The 300kj was for 1 serve of the product. The packet contained 2.5 severs, so when I finished I had consumed 750kj.I  found the way the product was labeled as misleading”, says ‘concerned’ on ABC webpage where a news report about the policy is published.

People doubt the accurateness of the nutrition label on fast-food packaging

Joey Liptapanlop thinks the Government should focus on reducing people’s consumption of fast-food rather than preventing them from having unbalanced nutrition with fast-food. He says that “some people choose fast-food because either that it’s the lack of time, or some people are stressed; that’s why people turn to fast-food” and the Government should look at these tackling problems such as over-working hours that becomes the source of stress.

The Victorian Government’s push of the nutrition labeling on fast-food packaging in February aims at alleviating the increasing number of diabetics and obesity in Victoria. While other parts of the world have been practicing this policy, the Victorian Government tries to bring it into Victoria hoping to help consumers make balanced choices for food. The Government has been propelling fast-food companies to cooperate.

After the tack was announced, McDonald’s Australia published the McDonald’s Action Plan on their website on March 31st 2010. The plan is a declaration of their advertising procedure but it also illustrates the company’s action on nutrition labeling.

“We have: introduced DI% nutrition labeling on packaging wherever possible to allow customers to make informed food choices…for those watching their Sodium, Saturated Fat, Kilojoules and Gl levels”, says in the report. But the representative of McDonald’s Australia Head Office refused to do further comments regarding to the actual effect of nutrition labeling.

KFC as well apply the nutrition label on their packaging for consumers to know the ingredients and nutrition contained. Some suggestions, such as having potato and gravy rather than chips, are provided on their website.

The nutrition label is printed on KFC's snack box

People often ignore the nutrition label when they consume fast-food

McDonald’s Australia also sets up a webpage with detailed nutritional information of their products. They offer consumers Tick Meals examined and approved by the Heart Foundation and claim them as “a healthier choice, with the same great Macca’s taste”.

Joey, however, is not such a fan of the healthy meals offered in fast-food restaurants. “Every once in a while maybe, but again, most people go for fast-food, they go for the greasy and oily stuff”, says the fast-food lover in regard to his opinions on the healthy meals.

KFC nutrition labels

Related sources:
McDonald’s nutrition webpage
KFC nutrition information
Research on nutrition labeling in the US
Heart Foundation Tick Update 2007 Feb

13/05/10 by Sheila Lin

~ by The Garlic Press on May 13, 2010.

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