The public will benefit from synergistic efforts of governmental and non-governmental regulatory and advocatory organizations to enlighten on the need for FoP nutrition labeling of pre-packaged food products in Nigeria.Read more: Front-of-Pack/Back-of-Pack Labelling…Do you know what you eat?
Nutrition labeling regulations have been in use in various countries since the USFDA published the first regulations in 1973. The Pre-packaged Food (Labelling) Regulations came into use in Nigeria in 1995. In a study carried out by Ogunmoyela et al., (2021) to assess the nutrition labeling formats and shelf display practices, the traditional back-of-pack (BOP) labels and the emerging new front-of-pack (FOP) labels were x-rayed in three categorized markets in the Lagos metropolis, Nigeria, it was revealed that apart from the ‘eye logo’, most of the logos found on the labels were voluntary and presently not regulated, hence did not follow any consistent label format, whether BOP or FOP.
In fact, only 4% of the products in different categories had the FOP labeling format and these were mostly imported products of multinationals, while 96% of products, that carried the BOP label, comprised both local and imported brands. Products were also generally found to be arranged on display shelves without any consideration for the nutrition information, but usually to communicate only the brand name of the product to the buyer. This display pattern is a major evidence of gaps in our nutrition consciousness, which should be of concern. Once there is no proper communication of the inherent nutrition in a product, then the consumer may be liable to misinformation. Some products even contain allergenic substances that can cause health hazards to consumers. On the other hand, when the information is properly communicated on the nutrition label, such risk is minimized, as the consumer is able to make an informed choice.
It is therefore of critical importance to educate consumers in the entire market distribution channel, across the outlets. It is also suggested that to solve this problem, the change to front-of-pack labeling system should be initially encouraged through a stakeholder forum highlighting why manufacturers should promote both the brand name and the nutrition profile on the front label.
Then, sensitization of retailers and local traders, mini-supermarkets, and large-scale supermarkets to better understand why some health-related issues may arise from the consumption of these products. The public will benefit from synergistic efforts of governmental and non-governmental regulatory and advocatory organizations to enlighten on the need for FoP nutrition labeling of pre-packaged food products in Nigeria.
For regulatory bodies, there is a need for stricter regulations on labeling standards and related information, as suggested in a study of the quality of the information carried on the labels of drinking water bottles sold in the city of Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kasamba et al., 2023). A comparison of the information of the physico-chemical parameters as stated by the producer of the water brand with the composition as recommended by the 2001 WHO guidelines for bottled water was carried out, and it was revealed that none of the bottles met all the parameters required by the WHO. Kindly access full articles via https://www.ajol.info/index.php/njns/article/view/216785